Reports came in yesterday that South African river guide Hendri Coetzee was killed on the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he was pulled from his kayak by a crocodile. He was leading a team of kayakers, that includes Americans Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic on a whitewater expedition at the time.
The news broke yesterday on the Born Out There Blog, which is the official blog of First Ascent gear, the major sponsors of the trip. The expedition had posted a couple of update of their journey on the blog before this tragic story broke. The Outside Online Blog, which has also been following the expedition, had information on what happened yesterday as well, posting this story.
Apparently, while paddling the river, a large crocodile simply came up out of the water and grabbed Coetzee, who was a well known guide throughout Africa. The First Ascent blog post says that he is “presumed dead,” which leads me to believe that his body hasn’t been recovered and he likely hasn’t been seen since he was pulled under by the croc, which can grow to enormous sizes in the wilds of Africa.
This is a sad story and a sobering reminder about the wild places we visit. They are still very dangerous and untamed. My condolences go out to Hendri’s friends and family.