‘I was very lucky’ says British teenager attacked by crocodile on Zambezi River

Amelie Osborn-Smith thought she would die or lose foot in rafting accident

Tim Wyatt
Monday 06 December 2021 19:57
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‘I was very lucky’: British student savaged by crocodile describes ordeal

A British teenager who was attacked by a crocodile while whitewater rafting in Zambia has described herself as “very, very lucky” to be alive.

Amelie Osborn-Smith was on a gap year canoeing adventure with friends in the southern Africa country when she was dragged overboard by the crocodile.

Despite the creature biting down on her foot, which was dangling in the Zambezi River, and then yanking her into a death roll in an attempt to drown the 18-year-old, she was rescued after other friends jumped into the water and punched the crocodile, forcing it to release her.

Speaking from her hospital bed in the Zambian capital Lusaka, Ms Osborn-Smith said she was unsure if she would survive during the terrifying attack.

“You don’t really think in that situation. People say you see your life flash before your eyes but you don’t, you just think how do I get out of this situation,” she said in a video posted by her hospital on Facebook.

“Your brain goes into overdrive and you think how to get out. I was just very, very lucky.”

When she was dragged from the water, covered in blood and having suffered serious injuries to her leg and foot, the teenager said she presumed she would never walk again.

“When the accident happened I fully accepted the fact I was going to lose my foot. I said to all my friends ‘It’s fine, I’ve lost my foot but I’m still alive’.”

But after she was rushed to hospital in an emergency medical evacuation she underwent surgery, which saved her foot.

“When I was told I would be able to walk again it was such a relief,” Ms Osborn-Smith said. “I was so relieved.”

She also spoke of her gratitude towards her grandmother, who had joined her in the hospital and slept on the floor beside her bed as she recovered from surgery.

Despite her ordeal, she also said she did not want the crocodile attack to put anyone off from visiting Zambia or chasing their dreams.

“Don’t let an incident like this put you off. It doesn’t happen often. I think especially now, I have seen your life can be over so quickly.

“So it sounds very cliched, but if you live thinking you will regret everything you will never have a fulfilled life, so I just think just do it the way you can and don’t let one incident hold you back.”

The 18-year-old, who is from Hampshire and went to school in Winchester, had been backpacking with friends after finishing her A-levels in the summer.

Speaking last week, her father Brent Osborn-Smith told The Sun she had undergone “several surgeries” which had gone well, but needed “upgraded, definitive care in the UK as a matter of urgency”.

Because of the risk of infection his daughter’s situation remained “touch and go”, he added.

In the hospital’s video, one physician from the clinic – Mohamed El Sahili – thanked her for the trust she had placed in the Zambian healthcare system.

Returning to Britain could prove difficult for Ms Osborn-Smith however, as Zambia has been placed on the UK’s Covid red list following the emergence of the omicron variant in southern Africa, meaning any travellers arriving in Britain from there would have to spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

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