Australian couple saved from crocodile-filled marshland after writing 'HELP' in mud

Justin Chan

A couple stranded in the middle of a crocodile-infested territory in Australia was rescued after the two scrawled "HELP" in the mud, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. 

Colen Nulgit, 20, and Shantelle Johnson, 18, were on a fishing trip with their puppy at the Keep River National Park in the Northern Territory near Western Australia's border on April 14, when their car broke down on the marshland and ended up stuck in the mud.

The couple had spotted crocodile tracks earlier in the day and were concerned about being attacked by the creatures, which are known to frequent the area. 

Photo: Western Australia Police Force

"We stayed in the car the first night and then we saw the water rising," Nulgit said. "We grabbed everything and took it about 20, 30 meters from the car." 

At about 4 a.m. the next day, Nulgit and Johnson wrote "HELP" in the dry mud with a fence post, in an attempt to attract attention from a passing plane, according to CNN. They didn't have much food left and only had a carton of water bottles for them and their pet. 

"Our hearts sank," Nulgit told the news outlet. "Just the feeling of getting's just pretty scary." 

A search team was deployed after Johnson's mother reported the couple missing. The two had fortunately told her where they would be and when they were supposed to return. Police from the couple's hometown of Kununurra then coordinated with a local plane company to search for them.

Nulgit told CNN he and Johnson lit a fire when they heard a plane flying overhead, alerting rescuers to their location.

"If they had not lit the fire and advised family members details of when they were departing and an expected return time, the couple may not have been located," police said in a statement.  

Nulgit and Johnson had gone missing for 26 hours before they were found. Nulgit said the experience won't stop the couple from going on a similar trip again — although he added that the two will be more prepared next time. 

"We're pretty lucky surviving and getting out of that," he said.