On Tuesday January 5, 1932, four-year-old Betty Doherty was taken by 4 meter crocodile as she and her four siblings were playing near their home on the banks of the Seymour River, about 12 kilometers east of Halifax.
Newspaper accounts say that the Doherty children were playing on the banks of the river near their home, when the crocodile suddenly appeared. 12 year old John Doherty carried one child to safety, and was carrying Betty from the danger zone when the reptile grasped the child’s legs in its jaws, and tore her from her brother’s grasp. John ran after Betty and caught her by the shoulders and bravely tried to save her, but the crocodile was too strong and hauled the baby into the water and took her beneath the surface. The distraught boy ran home and to tell his father of the terrible event.
Mr. Doherty immediately informed the Halifax police of the tragedy, and officers Acting Sergeant Frank Conaty along with Constables George Schnitzerling; Jens Fredericksen and Arnold Still, made an extensive search of the water and banks on the day of the crocodile attack and for several days afterwards, but failed to find any trace of the child.
A week after the attack, hunters Arthur Shaw, Bertie Carr and Jack Taylor, were hired to lay three snares along the river bank. On January 17, the crocodile believed to have taken Betty Doherty, was trapped about 100 yards south of the scene of the tragedy. Three Halifax police officers and the hunters took the crocodile by motor lorry to Halifax so that the stomach contents could be examined. No human remains were found in the crocodile’s stomach and the body of Betty Doherty was never found.
In June 1932, John Patrick Doherty received a Bronze Medal for bravery from the Royal Humane Society of Australia, for trying to save the life of his sister.
This information has been supplied by the Queensland Police Museum from the best resources available at the time of writing. Contact: E: [email protected]
The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the ground floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street.
“FROM THE VAULT: Crocodile Attack, 1932”, by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/au/legalcode