Gator attack: 'Call 911, my arm is gone'

2012-07-10 22:32
Alligator which attacked Kaleb. (HBBW News)

Alligator which attacked Kaleb. (HBBW News) (HBBW News)

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Moore Haven - An alligator at least 3m long lunged at a teenager swimming in a river and bit off the teen's right arm below the elbow, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday.

Kaleb Langdale, 17, survived the encounter on Monday in the Caloosahatchee River. Wildlife officers who caught and killed the alligator retrieved the arm, but doctors were unable to re-attach it.

"We found the alligator that was responsible," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Jorge Pino said. "We were able to kill the alligator and dissect the alligator, remove the arm and transport the arm to the hospital to see if the doctors could re-attach the limb."

The teen was rushed to a Fort Myers hospital. An update on his condition was not available early on Tuesday.

His friends told Fort Myers television station WBBH that while the arm could not be re-attached, Langdale was in good spirits.

During the interview with WBBH friends who were with Langdale at the time of the attack said they were in no way taunting the gator. They say it seemed to have come out of nowhere.

"It ended up being about a 10-and-a-half-foot gator who came straight at him. It came at him and he put his arm in the way instead of letting it get to his body. It took his arm and took him under," said friend Matt Baker.

Another friend, Gary Beck, said Langdale popped out of the water shortly after the attack.

"He was waving saying, 'Call the paramedics! My arm is gone!'" Beck described.

"It was scary. I couldn't believe it was real at the moment," Baker added.

Rare to bite

Officials with FWC explained that right now is a bad time for swimming because it's alligator mating season and that attacks during this time of year are not uncommon.

"Any type of splash in the water is prey for them," Captain Ardelean said.

Beck and Baker said Langdale was in good spirits. They said he was just happy the gator got his right arm instead of his left because that is what he uses to steer his airboat.

Alligators are more active this time of year because it's their mating season, which makes them more aggressive and inquisitive as they're looking for food and for mates. Wildlife officers warn that alligators can call just about any body of water in Florida home.

It's rare for wild alligators to bite humans, though, Pino said.

Since 1948, 224 people have suffered major alligator bites, including 22 fatal bites, according to June 2011 conservation commission data.

Wildlife officials were investigating what caused the alligator to bit Langdale.

Last month, an airboat captain was giving a tour in southwest Florida when a 3m alligator bit off his left hand. The Indiana family on the boat said the captain had hung a fish over the side of the boat and had his hand at the water's surface when the alligator bit him.

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