The Tauranga parents of a woman attacked by a crocodile in Australia have spoken of their pain as authorities continue their search for her.
Cindy Waldron, 46, had been swimming with former Hamilton woman Leeann Mitchell, 47, at Thornton Beach in the Daintree Rainforest about 10pm Sunday when Ms Waldron screamed "A croc has got me!"
Ms Waldron was screaming this as Ms Mitchell tried to wrestle her friend free from the crocodile. Ms Waldron has not been seen since.
We need to be there on the ground to show that we are there, that we care.
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Daintree Rainforest is about 112km north of where Ms Mitchell lived at Trinity Beach in Cairns.
Ms Waldron's father, Pat Waldron, and sister, Anna-Lee Annett, flew to Australia yesterday afternoon after facing an agonising wait to travel to Queensland. A travel agent was able to find two seats for the family yesterday.
"There's nothing we can do as such but we need to be there on the ground to show that we are there, that we care. Our darling girl is gone," Mr Waldron said.
"We are pretty upset. Everybody knows about it. It's everywhere." Mr Waldron said his wife Heather, who is president of the Tauranga RSA, was well known and there had been an incredible show of support from the community.
"Our house was filled with people ... but we were too stunned to think 'what's our next move'."
Mrs Waldron was also unwell and for this reason would not be joining them in travelling to Australia, Mr Waldron said.
"Which is heartbreaking in itself."
Mr Waldron said his daughter's friend, who was with her when she was attacked, managed to contact Ms Waldron's former boyfriend to tell the family what had happened.
"It was a hell of a shock," Mr Waldron said. "Then we tried to get a hold of the police but couldn't get a hold of them until quite a bit later. We've had to chase the cops a bit. They haven't been quick in responding."
Mr Waldron said even as an adult his daughter would call him 'daddy'. She had been living in Australia for about 26 years "but she's still a Kiwi".
He said he had told Ms Waldron she would need to either come home or get Australian citizenship, because when she got to 65 she could miss out on getting a pension.
"Now she won't even get to that age," Mr Waldron said.
"It's absolutely awful."
Ms Waldron had been on holiday, celebrating Ms Mitchell's recovery from cancer.
Queensland Police Senior Constable Russell Parker said the two women were not locals and might not have been aware that the area was well known as a crocodile habitat.
It is understood the women felt a nudge and Ms Waldron started to scream before being dragged into the water.
Warren Enstch, who represents the area in the Australian Parliament, said the beach was beside a creek where tourism operators run crocodile-spotting tours. Mr Enstch said the two tourists had to have seen plenty of crocodile warning signs.
"If you go in swimming at 10 o'clock at night, you're going to get consumed," he said.
The case has echoes of a fatal croc attack near the Daintree River just before Christmas in 1985. Beryl Wruck, 43, was taken by a 5m croc after a fateful decision to take a late-night dip in the shallows of Barratt Creek after an evening of dancing and drinking with friends.
May 29, 2016:
A 46-year-old woman is snatched and
dragged under water during a late-night swim with a friend at
Thornton Beach in the Daintree National Park. Her friend tried
in vain to save her.
March, 2016: Cooktown sailor Graham Clark fended off a
crocodile with a piece of wood after it latched onto the side of
his boat at the town's harbour. The 70-year-old was woken by
barking fox-terrier Laddie.
December 2, 2015: Snorkelling off the coast of Lizard Island
at night, Noosa man Mick Curwen was bitten on the arm by a
2.5m crocodile. He managed to shock the reptile by shining his
torch in its eyes before frantically swimming to shore.
April 13, 2015: An elderly golfer was attacked at a Port
Douglas course owned by Clive Palmer. The 70-year-old man
disturbed a crocodile in a waterway at the 11th hole of the
Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course and suffered puncture wounds.
March 9, 2011: A fisherman suffered a broken leg after being
struck by a four-metre croc at Weipa in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The 28-year-old clung to mangroves before another fisherman
was able to fight it off.
February 5, 2011: A north Queensland man was swimming at
a popular watering hole near Weipa with his two daughters
when a crocodile latched onto his arm. He punched it several
times in the head before it let go.
February 8, 2009: Five-year-old Jeremy Doble was taken on
the banks of the Daintree River in Cairns. He was playing with
his older brother when he followed the family's dog into the
September 30, 2008: Vietnam veteran Arthur Booker, 62,
was killed while checking a crab pot on the Endeavour River
near Cooktown. Two weeks later remains were found in the
stomach of a 4.3m crocodile.