An old friend of a fisherman killed by a crocodile recalls the harrowing moment when his buddy was taken away.
John Peiti said all he could see of his mate Kevin Darmody was his oars on the bank after the man “literally disappeared off the face of the earth” in remote Far North Queensland last month.
Darmody, 65, was fishing along the banks of the Kennedy River in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park on April 29 when he disappeared.
Early this month, it was confirmed that human remains had been discovered in two crocodiles euthanized after the horror incident.
Mr. Peiti, who was also at the riverbank when his mate disappeared, said he never saw the crocodile that took him.
“When he was taken, he was brought straight down, there was no waving of the arms in the air – just a total disappearance,” the racehorse trainer recounted The Australian.
The only sign John Peiti could see of tax collector Kevin Darmody (pictured) was his flip flops on the riverbank after a crocodile knocked him out in Far North Queensland last month
The two men were fishing on the riverbank, 50 yards apart, before Mr. Peiti heard the hotelier ‘roar’ followed by a huge splash.
It then took him 30 seconds to run through the bush to get to Mr. Darmody, but there was no sign of life near the fast-flowing river except for a large monitor lizard.
‘[There were] no swirls in the water – it was like clicking your fingers and it disappeared… and bang, [the croc] must have just dragged it straight down,” he said.
He literally disappeared off the face of the earth. There was no sign of him except his thongs on the bank.’
His mate guessed that Mr. Darmody must have lost his footing on the steep bank and fallen into the water where the crocodile was waiting.
Mr. Peiti searched desperately around the river to find him, along with others of their fishing party.
But with no cell service, the group drove to a ranger’s station to report Mr. Darmody’s disappearance.
The two men who had known each other for 20 years had been hanging out in the week leading up to the horror incident.
That morning Mr Peiti, who is from Moruya in southern NSW, was fishing for Barramundi with friends at the Kalpowar Crossing in Lakefield National Park in Far North Queensland.
Mr. Darmody later joined the group after finishing a morning shift at his pub in Laura, 200 miles north of Cairns.
Darmody was fishing in the Kennedy River in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (pictured) on April 29 when he disappeared
Mr. Peiti joined the publican on the ride back to Laura when they decided to stop at the popular fishing spot of Kennedy Bend on the way.
He said both men saw what appeared to be a ten-foot-long “black crocodile” on the sandbar as soon as they stopped at the river.
The crocodile then slid into the water as the pair split up to catch more fish – before Mr. Darmody was mauled.
His friend said the fisherman was very wary – more than others – around crocodiles.
Mr Peiti added that he and Mr Darmody had both fallen into crocodile-infested waters in the past before quickly emerging.
Nearby campers recalled hearing screams and frantic splashing the day before they feared Mr. Darmody had been taken by a crocodile.
Authorities believe Darmody was heading to the water’s edge to retrieve a fishing bait when he was snatched by the crocodile.
Crews, including the police diving squad, called off their search for the 65-year-old earlier this month after conservationists euthanized two crocodiles two days after the horror attack a mile upstream from where Mr Darmody was last seen.
Friends said Kevin Darmody (pictured) had a thorough knowledge of fishing in dangerous waters and was aware of the risks
Human remains were found in one of the following reptiles an autopsy – a post-mortem examination of an animal – but both crocodiles were said to be involved in the attack.
Mr Darmody, a publican in the rural town of Laura – about 75km from where he disappeared – was an avid fisherman who regularly documented his fishing trips on social media.
Friends said that Mr. Darmody, also affectionately known as ‘Stumpy’, had a thorough knowledge of fishing in dangerous waters and was aware of the risks involved.
“He was not a tourist or visitor to Cape York, he is or was a local, he knew the dangers, just bloody bad luck – in a split second you can be taken by a crocodile,” one person wrote on Facebook.
The avid fisherman regularly documented his fishing trips on social media, as one post showed a series of photos of a mauling crocodile.
Tributes poured in for Mr Darmody, who ran the Peninsula Hotel in Laura, with some describing him as a ‘damn top bloke’ and a ‘legend’.
Kevin Darmody was killed in a crocodile attack while fishing along the Kennedy River (stock image)