British student survives attack by crocodile on Zimbabwe river

Johannesburg, South Africa — An 18-year-old British student said he is “very lucky” to be alive after being attacked by a crocodile in Zimbabwe.

“I was very lucky,” Justin Topsfield told BBC News, speaking from his hospital bed in Harare, the capital. “I was very lucky. I’ve got stitches in my hand, but if you were looking at me, wouldn’t you say I’m very lucky?”

The student, from Dunstable, L.I., was on a trip with Oxford Brookes University when he was attacked while swimming near the town of Elvington. He was hospitalised in Harare with bites on his right hand and chest, after the crocodile took up position and attacked him.

Topsfield was swimming across a crocodile-infested section of the Zambezi River with a friend when the incident happened. A university rep confirmed to the Telegraph that the pair were the only people in the area at the time. One of the members of the pair came to Topsfield’s aid, while his friend tried to fend off the animal’s jaws.

Topsfield said that he had been swimming in the river for several hours before the attack. “I said ‘at least make it to two o’clock’, I was sticking to the time. I didn’t actually think it would happen at that stage. I couldn’t do much more than worry.”

He said his friend was struck with the crocodile’s head as it dragged him away. He then threw himself into the water in an attempt to save his friend’s life. It’s not clear why the attacker was charging at his friend, but Topsfield said he immediately became afraid of the predator.

“I thought at that point if this was a sign that I was really quite large I didn’t want to be around that much longer because it would be difficult to come up,” he said. “I was also upset because I knew it had got my friend out, so if I could save my friend that would have made it all the better.”

The student suffered bites and breaks on his right hand and chest, and needed skin grafts.

Read the full story at BBC News.


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