Survival

Young mum lucky to be alive after bone-crushing fall into croc-infested water

‘I’m just grateful to be alive.’
Samantha Tocknell

A young Aussie mum says she’s lucky to be alive after a sudden fall on holiday left her with life-threatening injuries, wading through crocodile-infested water.

Samantha Tocknell, 26, told that’s life! that she had been looking forward to the getaway with her husband John, 27, and her two-year-old boy, Lucas, in a quiet beachside cottage in the Northern Territory.

Violent storms had raged for several days, and late one night Samantha decided to step outside and take photos of impressive lightning displays when disaster struck.

Dundee beach
Samantha and her family were staying on a cottage by the cliffs at Dundee Beach, NT. (Credit: Getty)

‘I walked toward the cliff face with my phone,’ recalls Samantha, when suddenly the ground beneath her gave way.  Twisting her arm around trying to get a grip on the cliff an outcrop caught her by her side she remembers hearing a loud ‘snap’ before hitting the ground and passing out.

‘I guess I must about been out for at least 40 minutes,’ she says, remembering that the tide had come in quite a way.

Screaming for help made Samantha realise just how much trouble she was in.

‘The pain where I’d hit the rock was unbearable… it felt like all the air was being sucked out of my body,’ she says.

‘I couldn’t feel my left arm. It just hung by my side like a string of spaghetti.’

Crawling to her feet and edging along the cliff face, she remembered with horror that the bay was full of crocodiles – and she was only inches from water.

‘Somehow I managed to get half-way up the cliff face,’ she says. Which is where her hubby found her, trapped and screaming for help.

‘John had spent the last two hours searching for me… he’d been out of his mind with worry.’

samantah tocknell in hospital
Samantha spent 8 days in hospital recovering from her ordeal. (Credit: Samantha Tocknell)

Later at the hospital, Samantha realised just how much damage the fall had done.

‘I had a spleen laceration and they almost had to remove it. I’d also damaged my liver, cracked several ribs, and fractured my arm in two places,’ she explains – adding that the tendon damage to her arm meant she had nearly lost it completely.

samantha tocknell x-ray
Samantha was lucky doctors were able to save her left arm. (Credit: Samantha Tocknell)


Finally back home after a week in hospital and several surgeries she slowly regained her strength in her arm, which he hopes will get better with time.

‘I’ve never been so happy to change a nappy in my life!’ she laughs.

For more about Samantha’s story – and other REAL Aussie stories – check out Issue 8 of thats life!

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