Wedding Planning Shenanigans
When it comes to planning a wedding, many brides will agree it is one of the most stressful experiences ever. For Zanele, a former tennis player and bride-to-be, the stress of planning a wedding was almost too much to handle. However, she had been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a little girl and nothing was going to stand in her way.
A Twist of Fate
Despite all of her planning and making sure every detail was in place for the big day, Zanele could never have predicted what fate had in store her. Let’s just say…fate can be cruel.
Two Worlds Collide
It was eighteen months earlier when Zanele met Jamie, a British charity worker and was immediately smitten. The two felt an instant attraction to one another and despite their difference in culture…they fell in love.
Love and Tradition
The couple had met when Jamie was working in Zimbabwe. He would finally propose to Zanele on Valentines Day. He even did everything properly by approaching her family and following local traditions. Thankfully, Zanelle said yes to his proposal and the couple planned to move to England after the wedding.
The “Pre-Wedding Honeymoon”
With the wedding date fast approaching, both Jamie and Zanele wanted to have one last adventure in Africa, a “pre-wedding honeymoon” if you will. Therefore, the couple decided to take a canoe tour down the Zambezi River.
If they only knew how the trip would alter the course of their lives…
The Legendary Falls
Jamie and Zanele were having quite a good time as they canoed down the Zambezi and towards Victoria Falls. Known for its towering 350-foot waterfall and rapids, the legendary falls attracted tourists from all around the world. However, it wasn’t just the rapids that were dangerous, but what lurked unseen beneath the surface…
A Sudden Crash
While the views were stunning, the overall trip had been quite boring. However, that was all about to change. After the group had made their way through the rapids and were headed back to base camp, Zanele felt something crash hard into her canoe.
What could it be?
Lurking Beneath the Surface
Unfortunately for Zanele and the tour guide, they weren’t hit by a rock or log. Something deadly was watching and waiting just below the surface. A terrifying creature, straight out of your nightmares.
One Big Bite
At first, the boat rocked violently, but they were able to keep it steady. Then, the crocodile bit down on the canoe, puncturing the pontoon and flipping the boat. Zanele, Williams the tour guide, and another tourist were plunged into the water. And the crocodile was waiting…
A Man-Eating Crocodile
The crocodile was not just any crocodile. It was a Nile croc, which is known to be one of the largest reptiles in the world. They are usually found in the shallow waters of Africa and are extremely territorial and aggressive. Due to their vicious demeanor, they’ve been labeled man-eaters as well.
Confusion and the Attack
Many of the people on the tour had conflicting reports on what happened that day on the river. The chaos that ensued happened so fast, no one really knew what was going on. Regardless, Zanele happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, accidentally stepping on the crocodile which resulted in it biting down on her arm and dragging her into under the surface.
One of the tour trainees working under Williamson grabbed onto Zanele’s life jacket and refused to let go. He attempted to pull her into his own canoe, but the crocodile was too strong. In fact, due to its size and the firm grip on Zanele, it pulled the trainee into the water as well.
The Death Roll
Attempting to get the boat back in an upright position, Williamson saw the crocodile going in for the final strike. Known as the death roll, this kill move pinned the crocodile’s prey firmly in its jaws while it spins underwater. This would eventually drown the prey.
Was Zanele about to die?
A Helpless Fiance
While Zanele fought with the crocodile, a confused and disoriented Jamie struggled to see what was happening to his fiance. He watched in horror as the tour guides tried to free Zanele from the crocodile and his blood ran cold when he noticed it begin its dreaded death roll…
A Shocking Turn of Events
As the crocodile began its death roll, Zanele’s arm snapped and tore at her bicep. The upper ligaments were stripped from her limb and then there was a sickening SNAP. Zanele screamed and in a shocking turn, the crocodile released her and swam away. Refusing to wait, Williamson immediately grabbed the lifeless Zanele and brought her to shore.
Waiting for Rescue
The tour guide immediately contacted an emergency crew, which immediately leaped into action. While they waited for Zanele to be rescued, Jamie and Williamson tried to stabilize her. It would take the helicopter 45 minutes to arrive on the scene and by then Zanele had succumbed to shock.
Would they be able to save her?
When Zanele arrived at the nearest hospital, her arm was in really bad shape. What was left was stripped down to the bone and gangrene was already beginning to set in. Realizing they couldn’t save the arm, the doctors informed Jamie they would have to amputate.
The Wedding Must Go On
Even though Zanele was in incredible pain and had just lost her arm, she refused to postpone her wedding. As a couple, they had worked so hard to make it to that special day and she didn’t want to let go of that. Of course, Jamie didn’t want to force her into a wedding with her severe injuries, but Zanele was insistent. She may have lost her arm to a killer crocodile, but she was marrying the man she loved.
A Beautiful Bride
Despite losing her arm, Zanele was a stunning bride. With her newly bandaged arm tucked at her side, she wore a long veil of delicate white lace. Even though she had to change the venue for her wedding, she was thankful to keep the date the same and marry the man of her dreams.
One Terrifying Week
“In one week we went from shock and agony to a truly amazing experience,” explained Jamie. Zanele agreed. “There is always something good about life to celebrate,” she said “I just look out and see how beautiful the view is. Sunshine and green. I am happy.”
This couple is truly lucky to have each other.
An Uncommon Attack
According to Williamson who has been conducting adventure tours in the Zambezi for the past 12 years, the violent crocodile attack that claimed Zanele’s arm was very uncommon. While croc attacks do happen in the area, the details surrounding this particular attack were puzzling, especially since the predator let go so suddenly.
A Brave Woman
According to Jamie, he is extremely proud of his new wife and in awe of her good spirits despite the pain and trauma she suffered. He believes her positive outlook on life will ensure a very speedy recovery from her injuries.
On the Road to Recovery
With their wedding day behind them, Zanele has continued to recover since leaving the hospital. Both Zanele and Jamie will be settling down in Great Britain and will plan a real honeymoon once they’ve had time to settle in.
No More Outdoor Adventures
So would the couple ever go on any more outdoor adventures? Well, for Zanele and Jamie the answer at the moment is “no.” At least not canoeing down a river in Africa. The couple both revealed they would need some time to recover before they felt safe venturing onto a river again.
Love Endures Beyond the Pain
For both Zanele and Jamie, their love never once faltered through the trauma and terror of the attack. If anything, it brought them closer together. We wish them all the success in the world.