The Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was sent to the island at 12.40am. Picture: iStock
The Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was sent to the island at 12.40am. Picture: iStock

Baby victim of dingo attack has skull surgery

The toddler who suffered a fractured skull during a vicious attack by two dingoes on Queensland's Fraser Island is recovering after surgery, the boy's family say.

The 14-month-old was dragged from a camper trailer while his family was asleep early Friday morning before his heroic dad saved him from the jaws of the wild animal.

The boy's parents - who were camping with the boy and his four-year-old sister at Eurong Beach - woke to the sound of their son's cries, which were "becoming more distant", according to the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) LifeFlight Rescue.

The father left the van to find the animal had already managed to carry the child some distance away, with other dingoes lurking nearby.

It is believed at least two dingoes managed to enter the trailer without the family noticing.

The toddler was initially rushed to Hervey Bay and from there transferred to Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane for surgery.

"He has suffered multiple puncture wounds to his neck and skull," his family said in a statement.

"Our son is doing well and in a stable condition.

"We would like to thank everyone who has helped and cared for our son, including the emergency services and the hospital teams."

The Environment Department said on Saturday morning that 40 rangers had been patrolling the campsites but the dingoes involved in the attack had not been found, the ABC reported.

The boy is now in a stable condition. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue
The boy is now in a stable condition. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue

After fighting the dingoes off, the father retrieved his son and called emergency services.

A Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) paramedic who is based on the island was the first to treat the boy's injuries.

According to the Courier Mail, they included a fractured skull and puncture wounds to his head and neck.

Rescue pilot Frank Bertoli praised the father's quick response, and said the parents' actions likely saved the boy from even more horrific injuries.

"(The boy) was apparently grabbed around the back of the neck area and dragged away," Mr Bertoli said.

"If it wasn't for the parents fighting off the dingo he could have had much more severe injuries."

Mr Bertoli also told the ABC how the dingo was able to carry out the terrifying sneak attack.

"I think he made his way under the canvas to get into the camper trailer," he said.

"It's pretty horrific to hear something like that come over the phone and we just wanted to get there to be able to help.

"They said that the main dingo was surrounded by others."

Paramedic Ben Du Toit also revealed more chilling details about the incident.

"The child's parents were woken by their son's cries, which were becoming more distant," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The dad got out of the campervan to investigate and found the dingo dragging the toddler away from the campervan.

"They also spotted several other dingoes in the area and near the vicinity, and he immediately ran up and grabbed his son and chased some of the dingoes off."

The father fought off the animal to save his child. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue
The father fought off the animal to save his child. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue

The Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was sent to the island at 12.40am, and the infant was flown to Hervey Bay Hospital.

At 8am this morning he was transferred to Queensland's Children's Hospital in Brisbane and is believed to be recovering in a stable condition with his family by his side.

There have already been a number of alarming dingo attacks on Fraser Island this year alone. In January, a six-year-old boy was hospitalised after being mauled while a French mother and her son were also attacked last month.

According to The Conversation, "more than half of the recorded aggressive incidents by dingoes towards humans happened when the person was walking or running, suggesting that a 'chase' response may have been involved".

Experts also believe dingoes may attack humans on rare occasions due to scarcity of food, especially during times of drought.

The boy was transferred to Queensland’s Children’s Hospital in Brisbane this morning. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue
The boy was transferred to Queensland’s Children’s Hospital in Brisbane this morning. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service's website urges adults visiting Fraser Island to "stay very close - within arm's reach - of your children" and to "never leave children in tents, on beaches or walking tracks without adults; not even for a few minutes".

If you feel threatened by one, the site advises Australians to "stand still at your full height and fold your arms across your chest, face the dingo, then calmly back away".

Meanwhile, paramedic Ben Du Toit told holiday-makers to follow rangers' advice and stay away from the animals.

"Just stay well clear of them, keep all food sources well locked up and away from dingoes, and never walk alone, always walk in groups," he told AAP.

AZARIA CHAMBERLAIN

The latest attack is reminiscent of the 1980 tragedy involving two-month-old Azaria Chamberlain.

During the night of August 17 that year, the infant disappeared during a family camping trip to Uluru.

Michael and Lindy Chamberlain leave the Law Courts Darwin on September 16, 1982 following the first few days of the Supreme Court trial of their missing child.
Michael and Lindy Chamberlain leave the Law Courts Darwin on September 16, 1982 following the first few days of the Supreme Court trial of their missing child.

Parents Lindy and Michael Chamberlain claimed she had been snatched by a dingo, although her body was never found.

Mrs Chamberlain was tried for her murder, and was found guilty in 1982 sentenced to life imprisonment.

She ultimately spent more than three years behind bars before being released after a piece of Azaria's clothing was found near a dingo lair, opening new inquests.

It was only in 2012 - 32 long years after the baby vanished - that the Chamberlains' claims were officially supported by a coroner.

 

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au and @James_P_Hall



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