“I was in its territory,” says the diver, who’s currently in recovery after sustaining a bite to his skull by the Florida alligator.
The latest dive for Jeffrey Heim, a 25-year-old Tampa resident, nearly became his last. A commercial spear fisherman, Heim was out May 30 partaking in one of his favorite pastimes: shark tooth hunting. He set out in search of fossilized Megalodon teeth in the Myakka River – something he says he does often. This dive, however, quickly became one he will never forget – and one he feels “lucky” to be alive after.
While diving the southern Florida waterway, Heim says he came “up for a breath and I felt like I got hit by a boat going 50 miles an hour.”
The impact was from an alligator, and the diver says it “felt like a propeller to the head and it pulled me down.”
In the moment, Heim says he “quickly realized” his pain wasn’t from hitting his head on something. Instead, he looked up “and the gator’s just looking at me about 4 feet in front of me,” Newsweek cites of the 25-year-old.
“Then he started coming at me. I just learned from dealing with sharks, you don’t wanna act like prey so you don’t wanna move too fast,” Heim adds. “So, I started slowly moving away…”
Florida Diver’s Skull Fractured by Alligator Attack
And thankfully, that was the end of it. Jeffrey Heim escaped with his life, one hell of a story, and some serious scars. He left Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Memorial Day after treatment for his wounds.
He was only able to leave, however, after the 34 staples required to close his fractured skull were implemented. Newsweek also reports bites to one of Heim’s hands.
Yet despite these injuries, Heim says he feels “lucky” things turned out the way they did.
“I’m lucky it didn’t death roll,” he adds, noting the kill tactic crocodilians use. With it, the gargantuan reptiles will latch onto prey, then use their entire bodies’ immense musculature to roll and twist the victim’s body until it’s no better than a ragdoll.
“I’m lucky it didn’t get an arm, or a hand, or my face, or my neck, or my leg, or literally anywhere else,” Heim says. A’men to that.
“Because of the bite force on those animals, he could have got me anywhere else and I would have died,” the diver cites, thinking the alligator must have hit him “right in the perfect spot.”
While he recovers, Jeffrey has set up a GoFundMe in order to pay the medical bills. Within, he says he’s “currently not able to work until my head stops bleeding.”
In the end, Heim doesn’t blame the alligator at all for the attack. Instead, he says “I was in its territory. I didn’t weigh the risk to the rewards. Technically it’s gator mating season, so this was probably a female protecting her eggs.”