While swimming in Lake Thonotosassa, a Florida native terrifyingly close to an alligator that ended up taking a chunk out of the man’s face.
The incident occurred on Wednesday and is one of four alligator attacks Floridians have experienced within the past three weeks. This time, the victim was swimming along the shorelines of the Hillsborough County lake when the scaly reptile made its way over to him. Before the man could swim back to shore for safety, the alligator chomped at his face.
An unnamed witness watched the entire encounter and recalled the moment when he realized the man was in danger.
“I just heard a scream and I looked up, and I didn’t see anything,” the witness told Fox 13.
“I didn’t know what had happened I thought maybe he hit a rock or maybe there was something that spooked him,” he said. “It was pretty gnarly, it was definitely an alligator bite on his face.”
Thankfully, the alligator didn’t take any more from the man and seemed to recede back under the water’s surface. Once the man was back on land, he headed to the private property where he parked his vehicle. The witness rushed over to provide medical attention until paramedics arrived.
“He had a big gash on his face and he had a towel covering his wound, and then he said that they called 911,” the witness said. “And I had a med kit in my car so I gave him gauze and an emergency kit to stop the bleeding and then the ambulance showed up.”
Surprisingly, despite the man’s ability to exit the water and call 911 on his own, he was in critical condition when he reached the hospital.
‘Nuisance’ Alligator in Lake Thonotosassa Eludes Trapper for Past Four Months
Following the attack, alligator trappers arrived at Lake Thonotosassa in search of the animal in question. According to a neighbor, Jamie Slatton, he’s never heard of any alligator attacks in the area.
“I’ve been out here my whole life, we swim behind the house, my kids swim behind the house,” said neighbor Jamie Slatton.
However, there is one alligator that has continued to elude a trapper for four months and has been causing problems.
“The reason we’ve been calling on him is he’s been coming up, you know, on our banks in front of the house, and he’s not scared. When you walk down it by the lake, you’ll stand right there and look at you like he’s in a hunting mode,” Slatton explained.
Wildlife experts confirmed that alligators will not attack humans for no reason. Right now, females are extremely protective of their nests on land. So, if they feel a human is swimming too close, they’re quick to give a painful warning.
“This time of year you may have some females protecting some juveniles, the females stay around their babies for at least a year, sometimes longer,” ZooTampa Associate Curator of Reptiles & Fish, Dan Costell said.