Darwin’s rugby union and rugby league community are in mourning after a talented 20-year-old star of both codes was identified as the man who died in a fatal car crash in crocodile-infested waters.
Mark Williams drove the Toyota Land Cruiser that crashed and rolled in water near Six Pack Creek boat ramp, Dundee Downs, which is a popular Northern Territory fishing spot, 123km west of Darwin, on Thursday.
Mr Williams was trapped in the vehicle as it sunk while the single passenger was able to escape without serious injury and was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital.
Retrieval of Mr Williams’ body had to be postponed until Friday as police and emergency services were forced to kill a number of menacing crocodiles in order to drag the vehicle safely back to shore.
Mark Williams has been identified as the 20-year-old man who died after crashing into a crocodile infested Northern Territory fishing spot on Thursday
Police said recovering Mr Williams’ body had been hazardous.
‘This was a difficult recovery, and made more complicated due to the presence of saltwater crocodiles – a number of which were destroyed to ensure the safety of those involved in the recovery operation,’ Detective Senior Sergeant Brendan Lindner said.
Mr Williams’ rugby league club, the Northern Sharks, paid tribute on their Facebook page.
‘It was with great sadness to learn of Mark Williams passing,’ the post read.
‘The Sharks family send our sincerest and heartfelt condolences to the Roe and Williams family.
‘Mark’s presence was a shinning light, and his smile infectious. He will be remembered fondly and missed deeply at the club.’
‘Please know our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.’
Mr Williams has been remembered as a ‘a beautiful, happy and friendly young man’
In a statement to the NT News, the Northern Sharks representative said there were ‘no words that can be mustered up on the loss of our fallen brother’.
‘Mark was a rare gift that was unbelievably blessed with natural talent,’ he said.
‘He represented many clubs in AFL, rugby union, and rugby league. But it is the Northern Sharks where home was for him.’
A particular highlight was a length of the field try scored by Mr Williams when he ripped the ball free from a Litchfield Bears opponent.
Mr Williams won the club’s rookie of the year award that had been named after his uncle Mark Webster, a legend with the club.
He was also the youngest player to win another prestigious award the Marty Rammage footballer of the year, the club’s spokesperson said.
In rugby union Mr Williams represented the Northern Territory as a junior.
‘A player of great promise, Mark’s toughness and impressive pace made him a standout on the wing and in the centres,’ his former club the Palmerston Crocs posted on social media.
Mr Williams (pictured left) was an up-and-coming star footballer who had represented the Northern Territory in the juniors at rugby union
‘His dedication to the sport and his positive impact on and off the field will be deeply missed by his Crocs teammates.
‘In remembrance, we bid farewell to Mark with gratitude for the indelible mark he left on the rugby community. Our thoughts are with the Williams family during this difficult time.’
Other online tributes remembered Mr Williams as ‘a beautiful, happy and friendly young man’.
Police are still investigating the accident and are preparing a report on the accident for the coroner.