A rugged Australian rancher whose feats of survival in the Outback inspired the movie character Crocodile Dundee was killed in a shootout with police, officials said Wednesday.From his hiding place in the bushes along a highway, Rodney William Ansell, 44, ambushed and killed Sgt. Glen Huitson on Tuesday, police said. Another officer returned fire, killing Ansell during the confrontation, 30 miles south of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin.His barefoot body, found with two high-powered rifles, did not carry any identification, police said.Authorities had spent the previous 12 hours searching for a man who had attacked a nearby house Monday night, injuring two people. Assistant police commissioner John Daulby said Ansell was likely responsible for that attack as well.The attack left police baffled and searching fruitlessly for a motive and brought a dramatic conclusion to the life of a man whose survival instincts and rough wilderness manner made him famous here as a symbol of Australian toughness.Ansell became a local hero in 1977 after being swept out to sea and landing on a small, deserted island, where he was stranded for two months with little more than a rifle and his two dogs. He survived by shooting sharks and buffalo for food and drinking their blood to stay hydrated, since there was no potable water on the island.
Only a timely visit by an Aboriginal tribe saved him.
Â”You must believe me, it was not that big a deal,Â” he said in subsequent media interviews that were reprinted Thursday in The Australian newspaper.
His exploits were celebrated in his book and in a documentary film, both called To Fight the Wild.
Ansell’s story sparked actor and writer Paul Hogan’s imagination and inspired him, Ken Shadie and John Cornell to write a film about an Outback superstar. Crocodile Dundee, which starred Hogan as the title character, became an international comedy hit in 1986, and earned its three writers an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay.