While playing in a river near his home in Costa Rica, an 8-year-old boy was attacked and mauled to death by a massive crocodile in front of his horrified family.
Julio Otero Fernández, a young victim, was decapitated by the reptile before being dragged to the depths of the Matina River in Limón on Oct. 30, never to be seen alive again.
Then, nearly a month after the child’s gruesome death, an unidentified hunter allegedly shot and killed a crocodile in the area on Saturday. When the locals cut open the beast’s stomach, they found strands of hair and bone fragments thought to be Julio’s.
The 8-year-old was killed while spending time with his parents, four siblings and other relatives during a fishing trip.
At around 2 p.m. on Oct. 30, Julio was standing in knee-deep water in the river when the large crocodile lunged at him.
“It shook him (the child) and ripped off his little head,” an eyewitness described the brutal attack. “Then it grabbed him again and dragged him under.”
Julio’s parents, Don Julio Otero and Margini Fernández Flores, helplessly looked on as their son was being savaged by the reptile.
“The hardest thing for my wife was seeing the crocodile float away with my son’s body,” Otero said.
The dad said that the scaly predator resurfaced more than an hour later, still holding his child’s body in its jaws. He said that police officers who had responded to the scene refused to shoot the animal, saying they did not have the “authority” to open fire, reported the Spanish-language news outlet La Nacion.
“For my part, I feel abandoned by the authorities,” Otero said. “An animal is worth more than a human being, that’s what I’ve felt.”
The couple had relocated their family to Costa Rica from their native Nicaragua four years ago to work on a banana plantation.
The parents are now planning to move back home with their four surviving kids, between the ages 3 and 16, to keep them safe from crocodiles, which are protected animals in Costa Rica.
“I will not stay here because they protect these animals and they are capable of leaving the river to attack more people,” Flores, Julio’s mom, said.
It is unknown at this time who killed the crocodile over the weekend. The hunter fled the scene after shooting the reptile, which is a crime in the Caribbean nation.
Julio’s mother confirmed the discovery of hair and bones inside the dead crocodile’s carcass.
“The animal is dead. For me it is a great relief that they have killed it,” Flores said. “I wish they would kill them all so no family ever has to go through pain like this again.”
The human remains were handed over to the local authorities for DNA testing.