A vacationing British journalist was killed by a crocodile while washing his hands in a Sri Lankan lagoon on Thursday (Sept. 14). According to The Sun, the gruesome incident occurred when the victim, Paul McClean, 25, wandered away from friends to go to the toilet.
Witnesses said McClean could be seen frantically waving his hands in the air before he was dragged beneath the water’s surface by the massive reptile.
McClean worked for London-based Financial Times, for which he covered stories on Brexit and the European Union. A native of Surrey and a graduate of Oxford, he had recently returned to London after a brief assignment in Brussels.
He had reportedly gone to Sri Lanka with friends in order to learn how to surf. The owner of Safa Surf School, Fawas Lafeer, said that a local fisherman had seen McClean get killed by a crocodile at the edge of a lagoon known as Elephant Rock near Arugam Bay. The lagoon is supposedly infested by crocodiles; however, Lafeer said there had been no other attacks at the site in the past.
“Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a beautiful secluded beach and very safe,” he said. “Crocodiles in Sri Lanka live only in the fresh, back waters of the jungle. It is almost unheard of for them to come close to the beach.”
After McClean was pulled into the water, police and military units began an intensive search for his body in the water and on the shore. However, locals say the water is very murky and it is unlikely his body will be located.
Meanwhile, the young reporter’s colleagues are just starting to process the horrible news of his passing.
“We’re all totally stunned,” a co-worker told the Telegraph. “He was a great kid, an Everton fan, super bright. It’s an absolute tragedy.”
The British Foreign Office said it is assisting McClean’s family as they wait for news of his remains.
Two other people have been killed by crocodile attacks in Sri Lanka in the last year. In April, a 13-year-old girl was snatched by a crocodile while on a day trip with her family at Pulnewa Lake in Galnewa, and in July 2016, a 60-year-old man was dragged away by one of the giant reptiles while fishing.
[Featured Image by KongSan/Thinkstock]