An Australian woman who reportedly suffered from dementia is believed to have been killed by a crocodile after disappearing from a nursing home and wandering into the bushland.
Queensland police said 79-year-old Anne Cameron was last seen Tuesday afternoon walking down a road in Craiglie, a rural town not far from Port Douglas.
Two days later, human remains and personal items belonging to Cameron, including her clothes and walking stick, were found near a creek along Australia’s Four Mile Beach, authorities said.
“We strongly suspect now that there has been involvement of a crocodile attack given the location of those items and the human remains located close to a watercourse,” Ed Lukin of the Queensland Police Service said, according to the Brisbane Times.
Lukin, the department’s acting inspector, told the newspaper it was “highly likely” that the remains were Cameron’s because there had been no other reported missing people in the area.
Police are now searching for the crocodile.
For days, authorities had been looking for Cameron, who they said was possibly wearing a light-colored shirt and long pants, and carrying a walking stick with her name on it.
Police alerted nearby residents, urging them to “check their yards and properties including sheds.”
The Brisbane Times reported that Cameron had moved to Port Douglas from Canberra to be closer to family after her dementia diagnosis.
A close family friend described Cameron as a “lovely lady” who was “very quiet and very modest.”
“She was a very keen walker, especially after she retired. She loved to go bushwalking,” the friend, who was not named, told the Brisbane Times.
Authorities made their grim discovery Thursday.
According to the Brisbane Times, Cameron’s granddaughter, Isabella Eggins, later posted a message on a community Facebook page, saying it was her “deep regret” that after an exhaustive search, “we have the firm belief that my nan Anne Cameron has passed away in tragic circumstances.”
Michael Joyce, wildlife director of the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, told the newspaper that rangers had set traps near the water and crews were searching by boat and helicopter for the crocodile.
Four Mile Beach is in the northernmost part of Queensland, where “crocodiles are part of the natural and cultural heritage,” according to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
“Crocodile danger is real — don’t risk your life,” the agency warns, noting that people should “expect crocodiles in ALL north Queensland waterways, even if there is no warning sign. . . . Crocodiles can lunge at people and animals at the water’s edge. They are ambush predators, and you may not see them.”
Though crocodiles have been known to attack humans, the agency adds, “the statistics show that you are more likely to die from a lightning strike or bee sting than from a crocodile attack.
“But remember, be Crocwise in croc country!”