A church group in Ohio was in for a scary surprise this week after heading to a local park.
Rich Denius was part of a church group that took some kids to Bantas Creek in West Alexandria, Ohio on Wednesday and shared a video to Facebook of their encounter with a seven-foot crocodile.
“We had no idea what awaited us lurking in the shadows as we went down to play in Bantas Creek,” Denius wrote on Facebook. Denius explained that the huge reptile was spotted shortly after the group arrived, and he was coming down a sandbar on one side of the creek when other leaders on a bridge got his attention.
“Something dark was coming toward us,” Denius said in his telling of the story in his Facebook post.
“I was closest to the shady threat,” Denius continued. “I could see the bumps on its back above the surface, then under the water. I knew it was more than a fish. It was big. I couldn’t believe my eyes. God kept me calm. I called to the kids to get out of the water and onto the bridge. Most of them had no idea what was going on but they all quickly obeyed.”
He said as the crocodile swam under the bridge, passing the area where the children had just been playing, another leader was able to contact local Game Warden Wildlife Officer Brad Turner.
“Then, as if to assist us, it swam to the same gravel slope on the side of the bridge where the kids had been. Officer Turner dispatched it and we helped him remove it,” he said.
Denius warned that the crocodile was likely a pet that had been left in the creek by its previous owner (crocodiles are not native to Ohio). “Beware. There very well could be more dangerous creatures lurking in Bantas Creek,” he said on Facebook.
Ohio’s state veterinarian, Dr. Tony Forshey, told CNN that the beast was over 7 feet long and 171 pounds.
“This was the first sighting, so he probably hadn’t been in there very long,” Forshey told the outlet, adding that no microchip was found in the animal and that there did not appear to be other crocs nearby.
Later on Thursday, Denius shared another post, seemingly in response to “trolls” that were angry the animal had been killed.
“I don’t care what it was. I’m just glad the kids are safe and give Jesus all the credit for that,” Denius said, noting that while wildlife officials concluded the reptile was a crocodile, others have been weighing in with their own thoughts.
“People are saying it was a nice pet and wasn’t going to hurt anyone. They say we should have waited or called someone else. What? And let it escape to some other part of the creek,” Denius said.
“The game warden wildlife officer did what needed to be done – what he was trained and authorized to do for public safety, with the resources he had,” Denius continued. “He is the authority on the matter (not some activist throwing stones from the safety of their iPhone) and we are thankful he came so quickly. It is truly sad when one of God’s animals is destroyed, but I blame that death on the selfish, careless person (identity yet unknown) who released the animal to harm and be harmed.”
“People are made in the image of God and our lives come first,” he said.