British safari guide lucky to be alive after spending night in crocodile-infested waters
Mike Turner, 56, had collected an open-topped 'game viewer' 4x4 jeep and was using Google Maps to direct him to a guest house. But he was taken across a bridge which was flooded after heavy rainfall. In total darkness, the adventurer - who has lived in Mozambique since 2011 - was able to turn the £7000 vehicle against the raging current. Then he positioned himself on the raised benches and yelled for help.
However, it took fifteen hours before he was rescued by helicopter from the waters, at the point where the Komati and Crocodile Rivers meet close by to Kruger National Park in South Africa. Last Friday video footage showed the trained diver being hauled out of the water in shock, and examined by medics.What is Stuff Your Kindle Day? ( x)
"The police told me afterwards that two people had been swept away at the same spot earlier that day, and when they found their bodies they'd been half eaten by crocs. I didn't have any kind of weapon with me. I was thinking 'If a croc tries to get me, it's going to get a boot in the teeth!"
Luckily, he didn't actually see any reptiles, apart from on the riverbank whilst he was being rescued. Mr Turner is from Cumbria originally, and before his old game viewing vehicle was burnt out in an accident, he put on tours in the Maputo National Park. Last week he travelled over the South African border to buy the used Ford Ranger vehicle from Hoedspruit, however due to heavy traffic on his way back, he opted to stay in a guest house.
He said: "I put the location into Google Maps on my phone as it wasn't an area I knew, and set off along the route. It was a dark night and the lights on the vehicle weren't great, and I came across what I thought was a shallow ford across a river.
"There were no warning signs so I carried on. But the water started coming over the bonnet, and then the lights went out. I couldn't see where the bridge was, but I didn't want get swept away and end up croc's dinner. So I managed to wedge the truck over the side of the bridge against the water and climbed to the back row of seats, which was the highest point."( x)
From safety he attempted to call the guesthouse, and staff got in touch with rescuers. However, because the water rose 5ft higher than normal, volunteers were powerless until an Oxyx helicopter arrived the following day.
Mr Turner was then taken to a guesthouse nearby and was treated for shock and dehydration. Speaking to The Times, Pottie Potgieter, who co-ordinated the rescue mission said: "It was a miserable night for him. He could easily have ended up left in bits and pieces by the crocodiles or taken downriver to the waterfall. He said he had been following Google Maps and it took him what was the shortest, but obviously not the best route.
"But he still went ahead and followed it." There was a different, safer motorway route several miles away, but it was ensnared by queuing lorries. When he was exposed to the elements all night, he shivered so much he dropped his mobile phone in the water and had no indication what was planned for him until the helicopter arrived.
He said: "I'm just so thankful to everyone involved in rescuing me. Africa does test you, but after 12 years here I feel I have a pretty good understanding of what this continent can throw at you. I've had a few tricky situations, but what made this one different was spending such a long time on the edge between life and death.
"My diving experience was a life-saver, it taught me just to keep breathing and not to panic or do anything stupid. Hopefully they will put up signs or barriers to prevent anyone else making the same mistake that I did – the next person might not be lucky as me."