Firefighter Mauled by Alligator, Friend Reveals His Gruesome Injuries

by Emily Morgan

After an alligator attacked a Florida firefighter and veteran as he swam in a lake, his friend has since revealed the gruesome details of his injuries.

Before the tragic incident, 34-year-old Juan Carlos La Verde was preparing for an athletic competition when the reptile brutally gored him in Lake Thonotosa on Aug. 3. Afterward, the US Air Force veteran was left with severe injuries to his head and face. Doctors also had to perform a six-hour-long surgery to repair his skull and jaw.

La Verde, also a firefighter and paramedic, was swimming peacefully when the alligator struck. The ferocious beast mauled his face in a matter of seconds. However, he managed to survive. After paramedics arrived, they rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he spent more than a week in the ICU.

La Verde’s friend Kenney Ceron, who launched a GoFundMe page for his friend, said he was recently discharged. However, he added that he would go under the knife again.

Friend of alligator victim speaks out: ‘He will get through this’

“He will need at least one surgery in the future to replace the bone in his brain that they had to remove,” he said. His friend added that he will also get his wires cut in a couple of weeks.

Ceron added: “I still can’t believe that in just eight days, he is out, but that is just a true testament to God and how strong he is, and when he wants something, he sets his mind on achieving it. We have a long road ahead, but thanks to our family, friends, and everyone who has supported us in one way or another, he will get through this.”

Kenney added that his friend had always “dedicated his entire life to helping others” and has been involved in several competitions to raise money for charity.

At the time of the brutal attack, La Verde was training for a race for his own non-profit organization, Defeat X.

The tragic incident comes after two alligators recently attacked a Florida woman. In a released 911 call, listeners can hear a man as he attempted to rescue her from the beasts. As it turns out, the 70-year-old bystander risked his own life to save the woman after she fell into a canal near a golf course.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission identified the victim as 80-year-old Rose Marie Wiegand. The man was playing the 6th hole when he saw Wiegand fall in the canal. Immediately, he ran over and tried to pull her out of the water.

Unsuccessful, he then called 911, pleading for help. “I just couldn’t get to her. I tried,” he told dispatchers. He told operators he thought Wiegand had been cutting back weeds around the water when the attack occurred.