The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Brains over brawn: Crocodile attack survivor enlightens Year 10s

On 1 January 2018 Peter Knottenbelt retired. He’d had a long career as an educator and mining engineer, working in some of the deepest mines in Africa. He was an adventurous type who enjoyed sky diving, white water canoeing, hiking and camping. On retirement however, he looked forward to a slower pace and time to relax. It wasn’t to be.

Six days later while holidaying with family at Kruger National Park in South Africa, he was fighting for his life in the jaws of a crocodile. Wading through a shallow river Mr Knottenbelt had stepped on the submerged three-metre beast. Resistance seemed futile as it threw him about, breaking bones in his leg and torso. Using some quick thinking and his remaining strength, Mr Knottenbelt gouged beyond the leathery cover of the crocodile’s eyes. The crocodile finally hesitated in its descent to deeper waters and released him. Mr Knottenbelt spent the next 14 days in a coma and 44 days in intensive care. He’d endured 13 separate surgeries, had one leg amputated and was lucky to be alive.

It was this formidable experience which Mr Knottenbelt recounted to Year 10 students last week as part of an English curriculum focus on ‘Life Stories’. Delivered with humour and positivity, his story of survival had boys captivated. He spoke of strength in the face of adversity, courage to face the unfamiliar and perseverance in attaining one’s goals. Sage advice from an inspiring man.

Ms Amanda Beckett
English Teacher