Australian Radio Personality Disappears in Croc-Infested Wetland

Roman Butchaski went missing on Monday near a river in what’s been called “known crocodile habitat.” Butchaski, a well-known angler in his 60s or 70s (according to conflicting reports), triggered a search operation when he failed to return to his campsite during a solo fishing trip in the area.

Australia’s Cape York Peninsula is a dream location for many anglers, but its remote wetlands host an array of potentially dangerous wildlife.

a peninsula surrounded by ocean waters

The northern tip of Australia’s Cape York. Photo: Shutterstock


“The most dangerous hazards are saltwater crocodiles, marine stingers, and venomous snakes,” backcountry navigation website Hema Maps said. “But you can avoid their unwelcome attention by staying out of their habitat.”

Searches turned up some of Butchaski’s belongings near the region’s Olive River, according to Australia’s Country Caller. The waterway lies about 600 kilometers north of the coastal city of Cairns, and 150km from Bamaga on the tip of Cape York.

Butchaski, the former co-host of a fishing show on Sydney’s 2GB, left a popular visitor site called Bramwell Station about 8 am Sunday. He planned to walk the riverbank while casting lures, leaving notice with friends in the area. When he hadn’t returned by sunset, they raised the alarm.


Vehicle found

“He’s a keen fisherman, so the expectation is anyone who fishes those areas would take all reasonable precautions in and around those waterways,” Queensland Police senior sergeant Duane Amos said at a Cairns press conference.

Butchaski’s co-host from 2GB, Gavin Pitchford, confirmed the experience Amos acknowledged and noted in comments that Butchaski is diabetic.

He might have “suffered some kind of episode,” Pitchford said in comments the BBC obtained. He added, “I’m devastated. Butchy walks the banks up there regularly. He’s been fishing there forever.”

On this visit to the Olive River, Butchaski borrowed a side-by-side off-highway vehicle (OHV) from a friend to reach it. The river’s main channel lies more than an hour’s drive east of the campsite.

That vehicle, along with items including a fishing rod, was discovered near Butchaski’s destination around 6:45 pm Sunday.

Local search teams have scoured the area, on the ground and in the air, limited by the region’s dense vegetation and snaking waterways.

Other attacks

According to the Caller, Amos acknowledged it was possible Butchaski fell victim to a crocodile attack. These incidents are uncommon, but a few have occurred this year.

In February, rangers shot a 4.2-meter crocodile that attacked a man and ate his dog at a remote boat ramp north of Cairns, the BBC reported.

Then in May, wildlife officials searching for a missing 65-year-old fisherman shot two crocodiles and found his remains inside one. That incident took place on the Kennedy River and marked Queensland’s 13th recorded fatal attack since 1985.

The search for Butchaski had not concluded as of this writing.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.