Kevin "Fred" Langdale was swimming in the Caloosahatchee River in Moore Haven, southwest Florida on Monday afternoon when an 11-foot alligator attacked him and ripped off his right arm.
According to the Daily Mail, Fred's friends spotted the monster near him where he was swimming and shouted to warn him. News-Press.com reports that LaDawn Hayes, Fred's aunt, said when his friends saw the alligator, they began yelling. She said:“They started yelling, ‘Alligator,’ which usually is a joke, but he looked up and there was one in front of him. He reached up and grabbed the alligator underneath its bottom jaw, by his skin, and the alligator, of course, pulled him down at that point.”
According to Rebecca, Fred's sister, he had seen the maneuver a "million times" on TV. Fred said he probably learned the maneuver from the National Geographic show "Swamp Men."
When he surfaced, the animal appeared calm, but as he threw his arm back to swim away, it lunged at the arm. Fred deliberately tugged and allowed the alligator have the arm to save his life. According to Rebecca, at that point Fred knew he had a choice between his arm and his life. Hayes said: "He knew he was losing (his arm), so he just took his feet, buried his feet in the alligator’s head and just pushed so that he could get it free. Once it popped loose, he just swam as hard and fast as he could to the dock, where some friends of his pulled him up.”
CNN reports that Gary Beck, a friend of Fred who witnessed the incident, said that as Fred swam toward the shore, "He was waving saying, 'Call the paramedics! My arm is gone!'"
His friends applied pressure to the wound and dialled 911. While he was being rushed to the hospital, a search for the alligator began. According to FWC spokesman Jorge Pino, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers caught the reptile, killed it and retrieved the arm from the animal's belly. The arm was rushed to the hospital. Pino said: “Every effort was made to try to get the arm there in time to help in any way." But medical officials said the arm was in too poor a condition for reattachment.
The 17-year-old is now recovering at the hospital and in good spirits. According to the Daily Mail, he even joked about the incident, saying to his sister that she "won't be the only left-handed person in the family."
News-Press.com reports that with a pink gauze wrapping the stump at the hospital, a few hours after the attack, Fred managed a smile and asked his aunt LaDawn Hayes, to snap a photo of him on her iPhone before he underwent surgery. He appeared relieved at the fact that he was still alive.
His sister Rebecca, said: "I walked in (to his hospital room) and he told me, ‘Well, it looks like you’re not gonna be the only left-handed person in the family.'"
She said: “He’s making jokes. The first thing he told my mom when she arrived on the scene was, ‘At least it didn’t get my (left) arm. I can still drive my airboat because the airboat is powered with the left.’”
CNN reports that Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon, said that alligator attacks are rare in the area. Fish and wildlife official Jeff Ardelean, said, "It's just after mating season, eggs are already laid, but the gators are still very active. Any type of commotion on the water is potential food in their eyes."
Pino chided people for risking their lives swimming in water known to have alligators. He said: “People just need to use common sense. Any body of water in Florida at one point or another will have an alligator in it.”
New-Press.com reports that a similar incident occurred last month. Everglades airboat Captain Wallace Weatherholt's hand was bitten off by an alligator while he was feeding the animal. Pino said: "Unfortunately human beings have a tendency, in some instances, not to do the right thing."