HomeOutdoorsNewsMan Loses Part of His Skull in Terrifying Alligator Attack

Man Loses Part of His Skull in Terrifying Alligator Attack

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A Florida man is lucky to be alive after losing part of his skull during a terrifying alligator attack. Months after the reptile attacked him, the man is still recovering, recounting the horrors of his encounter.

“I had no idea that dinosaur was there,” JC LaVerde, a firefighter and paramedic for Oldsmar Fire and Rescue in Florida, said.

Newsweek reports LaVerde had been swimming in Lake Thonotosassa northeast of Tampa when on August 3rd when the alligator attacked him. Per the news outlet, the creature bit down hard on his face. An eight-year-old girl found the first responder bloodied just moments after the attack.

“I immediately felt scales, scales, scales and then teeth,” the fireman continued. “I was inside its mouth. Its whole mouth. I felt teeth. I felt his tongue.”

Given the severity of the attack, it’s a wonder LaVerde is alive to tell the tale. That said, months after the initial attack, the first responder is still suffering the consequences of his encounter, forced to wear a helmet as the alligator attack left part of his brain vulnerable.

The Moments After the Attack

Still, despite the horror of the attack and its aftermath, LaVerde’s training as a first responder helped him to keep thinking clearly. Swimming to shore, blood dripping down his face, he approached the first person he saw for help: 8-year-old Ella Wynn.

Even as seriously injured as he was, the EMT remained considerate of the little girl and how she might react upon seeing him. “I didn’t want to scare her,” he explained, “and I didn’t want to cause her any trauma because I knew, I realized what this would look like. I would probably look like a monster.”

Ella bravely listened to the man’s request for help and rushed to get her mother Alison. Alison, reflecting on the attack, said, “I could definitely see half, like the upper portion of his skull was bit through. He was bleeding. It was coming down his face. I was very worried we weren’t going to get him help in time because he was losing a lot of blood.”

Thanks to Ella and her mom, though, LaVerde is alive to tell the tale. Once he arrived at the hospital, medical professionals determined the man’s skull had been crushed in the attack, which lead to a six-hour surgery. Though he came out alive, albeit left to wear a helmet, he returned to the hospital for a second surgery in October as an infection had set in.

Weeks following the second surgery, LaVerde is again at home recovering, receiving medication through an IV.

Wildlife Experts Speak Out About Rarity of Alligator Attacks

LaVerde’s August attack happens to be the exception among alligators, rather than the rule. Wildlife expert Laura Kojima, a herpetologist and postgraduate student at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, said just six alligator attacks take place in Florida (on average) annually. She states most of these attacks are the result of humans habituating alligators by feeding them.

“About six alligator attacks a year occur in Florida,” she said, “and it is almost always due to the alligator being fed by a person and becoming accustomed to humans.”

She emphasized, “Ultimately, these animals really want nothing to do with humans.”