Group survives croc ordeal as 4WD washed into river

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High drama at Cahill's Crossing. PIC: Parks Australia

Seven people were forced to spend hours clinging on for dear life after their four-wheel-drive stalled on a Northern Territory river crossing and was washed into crocodile-infested waters.

The drama unfolded  at Cahill’s Crossing near Kakadu late last week. The group, aged 16 to 46, clung to the bonnet and roof of the car for two hours  until a passer-by spotted them and alerted the Jabiru rangers.

“Jabiru ranger members arrived to find an ’80 Series LandCruiser submerged in the middle of the crossing and there were a number of people clinging to the roof and the bonnet,” Duty Superintendent Louise Jorgensen, told the ABC.  “The water level was actually over the bonnet, it was about 1.2 metres high and the vehicle had been partially washed off the carriage way into large boulders, that was on the downstream side.”

Rangers rescued the group with a boat, and no one was injured.

Duty Superintendent Jorgensen told the ABC that Oenpelli Road at Cahill’s Crossing was closed, but the 30-year-old driver said he did not see any signs.

“The vehicle didn’t have a snorkel and the driver also said despite the fast-flowing water and the depth, he forgot to lock in the hubs and engage the four-wheel-drive,” she said.

The officer said the incident should serve as a timely warning now the wet season has arrived, for drivers not to enter flooded waterways, obey closure signs and check road reports.

The crossing is the only road between Jabiru and the Gunbalanya community, and becomes submerged with the tides.

In the wet season from September to May it is often completely unpassable.

The ABC reports that it is also a popular spot for saltwater crocodiles and rangers, conducting a survey earlier this year, counted more than 120 crocs in a six-kilometre stretch of the river south from Cahill’s Crossing.

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