The father of a British teenager mauled by a crocodile in southern Africa has revealed he received a text message from a medic who was evacuating her from the scene by air, reading: “You have one hell of a brave girl there, sir.”
Amelie Osborn-Smith, 18, was left with her right foot “hanging loose” and hip dislocated after a large crocodile bit her leg while she was swimming in the Zambezi river in Zambia during a break from a white-water rafting expedition.
Her father, Brent Osborn-Smith, an osteopath whose practice is based in Sloane Square in London, said his daughter was grateful to be alive and hoped to return to the UK this weekend.
“Amelie is a fit, intelligent, brave and conscientious individual who is extremely grateful to be alive and to have been looked after so well by all those involved in her rescue,” he said.
The teenager was on a gap-year trip after passing her A-levels at school in Hampshire, and was part of a professionally organised rafting expedition when the attack happened on Tuesday. The group stopped for lunch on a quieter stretch of the river between rapids, and Osborn-Smith Sr claimed the group were encouraged by the guides to have “a quick dip” over the side to cool off as the area was deemed to be safe.
“When returning to the boat, Amelie was bitten on the leg by a large crocodile, which attempted to drag her down into a characteristic death roll in order to subdue its prey,” he said.
“Amelie fought back with great courage and refused to be subdued or taken under. Due to the quick thinking and intervention of all those onboard, the reptile’s attack was repulsed and Amelie was then brought quickly back on to the boat.”
The team administered first aid, stemming blood loss. The father was told his daughter “remained calm and collected throughout” and the crew were “amazed that she didn’t even shed a tear”.
A helicopter evacuation was called and she was flown to a hospital post in nearby Livingstone. It was during this flight that the father received the medic’s message.
After stabilisation in Livingstone, she was flown for a further 90 minutes by helicopter to the capital, Lusaka. Infection was treated – crocodile bites are often highly contaminated – and after “several very professional initial surgical procedures” her foot was saved.
Arrangements were now in place to have her transferred to specialist care at a teaching hospital in London, the father said.
“Amelie remains traumatised and heavily sedated but we will know more about her ultimate progress in the coming days,” he said. “We are humbled by and profoundly appreciative of the courage and professionalism of all those involved in Amelie’s life-saving rescue and her subsequent care and treatment.”