An eight-year-old boy, Julio Otero Fernandez, was out on a fishing trip with his parents, four siblings and other relatives, at the end of last year, and was wading in water only knee level, when he was attacked by a crocodile in Costa Rica.
The child’s body, mauled and decapitated, was found weeks later in a crocodile’s belly.
The boy was playing in the Matina River, not far from his home in Limon, Costa Rica. The crocodile appeared suddenly and dragged him into the river, decapitating him while his parents watched in horror.
Almost a month after the child’s violent death, a hunter shot and killed a crocodile near where the child was attacked.
The reptile was cut open, revealing human hair and bones believed to be the child’s.
The boy’s parents, Don Julio Otero, his father, and his mother, Margini Fernandez Flores, helplessly watched as their boy was grabbed, decapitated, and then dragged under by the reptile.
A local news outlet reported that the boy’s father said that the local law enforcement officers who responded to the scene of the horrible attack refused to shoot the crocodile at the time, because they said they did not have the authority to shoot it. It is illegal to shoot crocodiles in Costa Rica.
Mr. Otero felt the authorities had let him and his family down, and that they valued an animal’s life more than his son’s.
The couple moved from Nicaragua to Costa Rica to work on a banana plantation. After the incident, they hope to move back to Nicaragua and take their four surviving children to a location where they are not vulnerable to reptile attacks.
Fernandez’s mom, Flores, said that she found it impossible to stay in their house in Matina because she keeps thinking about her son Julio.
She said that in Costa Rica, the government protects reptiles, who are a danger to people at the river, and she couldn’t bear another episode like the one she and her family suffered through.
The hunter who shot the crocodile was not identified. He fled the scene after shooting it, in order not to be tracked by the police.
Fernandez’s mother, though inconsolable, said she was glad that the killer crocodile had been shot and killed and wouldn’t wish such a horrifying experience on anyone.
Crocodiles are found throughout Costa Rica and other parts of Central America. Attacks are rare but do happen from time to time.
In July 2022, two US tourists from Colorado were injured by a crocodile at Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta resort while swimming.
In August 2022, video footage appeared of a crocodile dragging a man’s lifeless, mutilated body in a lagoon, the Laguna del Carpintero (“Carpenter’s Lake”) in south Tampico, Mexico. Visitors had been warned not to swim there because of the danger from reptiles.
Earlier in the month, in La Agua lake in Altamira, an eight-year-old girl was attacked by a crocodile that her father fought off. She survived with several injuries to her arm, shoulder, and back. Attacks have also been recorded in Ciudad Madero.
Just recently, in February, an 85-year-old woman in Fort Pierce, Florida was walking her dog alongside a pond behind the houses in her community, when an alligator snuck up from under the water and approached the land. It attacked her dog and when the woman tried to distract it, the reptile attacked her, dragged her into the water, and killed her.