February 28, 2006

Croc-wrestling granny wins Australia bravery award

SYDNEY -- An Australian grandmother who saved a friend from the jaws of a crocodile by jumping on the giant reptile's back has been awarded Australia's highest civilian bravery award.

Alicia Sorohan was awarded the Star of Courage after risking her life to save a friend who was dragged from his tent by the crocodile during a camping trip in the remote far north of tropical Queensland state in October 2004.

Then 60, Sorohan jumped on the 4.2 m (14 feet) crocodile's back as it dragged him from a tent while the man's horrified wife tried to both pull him free and protect their baby.

The crocodile then turned on Sorohan and almost tore off her arm before her son shot and killed it.

"The first thing you think of was just jump on it and try to pull it off," Sorohan told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio after the awards list was announced on Monday.

"My son came around, he saw me actually jump on the crocodile and he shot it, but it hung on to my arm," she said.

"I just couldn't get away and you think, 'Oh, there's my time up'," said Sorohan, from the Queensland capital Brisbane.

Sorohan said she finds "crocs" fascinating and has since returned to their favorite camping spot, which she calls "paradise."

Crocodiles number in the tens of thousands across northern Australia and have killed about a dozen people over the past 20 years.