A family from Maypen Village in the Belize River Valley is trying to come to terms with the tragic loss of a child. She's 8 year-old Adriana Moody, and she was killed by a crocodile which attacked her.

Baby Adriana was swimming with 2 other kids and her aunt Indira Rhaburn. That's when the crocodile, which had been lurking in the deeper waters, grabbed her by the leg and dragged her under. 

The aunt shouted for her mom, Bridget Moody, who immediately jumped into a dory and set chase. She spotted the croc nearby, and without any regard for her own safety, used the paddle to strike it in the head. But, it was futile, the crocodile dove down and swam away – with the child clutched in its jaws. 

This morning, a few hours later, a search party including Baby Adriana's relatives, spotted the crocodile, which apparently still had her body in its mouth. One of the members of the search party shot the crocodile and killed it. That allowed them to retrieve the body, and when the law enforcement finished securing it, they told us what they shared a few details with us:

Indira Rhaburn - Eyewitness
"Yesterday evening me and my baby and my 3 nieces were swimming. We were right in the shore swimming but I didn't see nobody; I didn't see the crocodile when it came and it snatched her by the feet and take her away under the water."

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"We observed her child Adriana Moody, 8 years of age went under and when she submerged she was in the mouth of a crocodile. She immediately got into a canoe and paddled towards the crocodile where he attempted to hit the crocodile on the head in an attempt to have the crocodile free the child but the crocodile submerged again and disappeared after that; this morning we learnt that one resident that was downstream saw the crocodile with the child in the mouth and fired shot at the crocodile and that was when the crocodile apparently released the child and the child was discovered downstream."

Seaman Julius McKay - Diver, Belize Coast Guard
"The body was discovered approximately like 2 miles from this present location. You know all we had to do was go and just recover the body."

Joshua Trapp - Concerned Citizen
"It seems to me that the baby got bitten by the crocodile several places of the body."

Seaman Julius McKay - Diver, Belize Coast Guard
"By the time we got here we found out that a relative of the child had already found the crocodile this and had killed it. So our job then just became to simply assist the police in whatever duties or responsibilities they would need us to take on from there."

Joshua Trapp - Concerned Citizen
"The procedure should be that they inform the police department and forestry and forestry would say what about it. I cannot discuss that part because it only has to be with forestry of the police department that could tell you."

Daniel Ortiz
"In this particular instance where there is grief and a pain involved in a baby's life being lost. Can the persons who killed the crocodile face any kind of charges for that?"

Joshua Trapp - Concerned Citizen
"I don't think it would be fair because of course you are out there looking for the body and you don't want to get bitten by a crocodile also so I don't think it should be a problem."

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"I think the time has come for us to start making belts and create jobs for young people, belt and shoes and what have you from crocodiles."

Jules Vasquez
"But you do know it is illegal you can't just kill a crocodile."

ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"I know it is but I'm saying the time has come. We have too many crocodiles in our water way at this juncture."

The family stresses that this has never happened before. Generations of Maypen residents have come to this location to swim, and there has never before been a crocodile attack.

Channel 7

PRESS RELEASE from the Forest Department

The Forest Department is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Adriana Moody of Maypen village, who was fatally attacked by a crocodile while she was swimming in the Belize River around 3pm on the afternoon of Sunday July 17th.

Although the specific reasons are uncertain for what we suspect is a morelet's crocodile attack, the Forest Department reports that this unprovoked incident may have been the result of one or a combination of five reasons: (a) hunting for food and limited natural food source; (b) defense of nesting sites; (c) the male Morelet’s heightened testosterone levels; (d) loss of fear towards humans, and (e) direct or indirect feeding of crocodiles.

The Morelet's crocodile is the smaller of the two crocodile species found in Belize and can span over 8 feet in length (adult size range from 6 to 14 feet) and normally inhabits freshwater environments such as swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers. These crocodiles naturally prey on aquatic species, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. A recent decline of their food source has forced crocodiles to seek alternatives, such as dogs and small mammals, whereby children may be at much greater risk than adults.

Notably, a recent trend has been observed that these animals increase their attacks during their breeding season, as well as the onset of the wet season. The Morelet's crocodiles become more aggressive between April and June and Morelet's males can become more defensive and territorial as a result of their heightened levels of testosterone during the breeding season.

A primary factor that has increased the likelihood of crocodile attacks has been their loss of fear for humans. When crocodiles are fed intentionally and unintentionally by humans, it increases the risks of the crocodiles becoming accustomed to human interactions and associating the presence of humans with food. Additionally, our expansion into crocodiles’ habitats has resulted in increased sightings of crocodiles and increased the risks of crocodile encounters, interferences and attacks.

The Forest Department advises the public to take precaution when conducting activities in freshwater environments by observing these safety guidelines to protect themselves, loved ones and property:

1. Keep children, pets, and livestock away from water edges, especially during peak croc hours at dusk and dawn;

2. Do not feed crocs; nor feed crocodiles with scraps or clean fish at boat docks, ramps and water edges;

3. Do not toss garbage or food scraps in water.

4. Be vigilant by looking for croc tracks to avoid croc territories;

5. Avoid swimming in these areas, especially during the dusk and dawn periods

6. Stand away from water edge when fishing;

7. Keep arms and legs inside boats when in croc territory;

8. Never harass crocs (even small ones).

Report any sightings of crocodiles around public areas to the Forest Department at 501-822-2079 or at wildlife.manager@forest.gov.bz.