Boy fights alligator, walks away with tooth

By Petro-Anne Vlok
11 August 2014

A quick dip in a lake almost cost a nine-year-old boy in the US his life when he was attacked by an alligator, but the brave youngster was able to fight it off and swim to safety.

Nine-year-old James Barney Jr is lucky to be alive. The youngster from Florida in the US narrowly escaped death when he was attacked by an alligator after going for a swim. Speaking from hospital, James recalled how he decided to go for a swim in Lake Tohopekaliga, which is classified as a no-swim area, after riding his bike on a hot day. While in the water the alligator attacked him.
"It was a pretty big tooth. I want to put it on a necklace so then I can tell all my friends."

“At first, I thought someone was just playing with me, and I didn't know what happened,” he told US news agency ABC. “I reached down to grab it, and I felt its jaw, I felt its teeth, and I didn't know what to do, so I immediately reacted and hit it a couple times. And I had enough strength to pry its jaw open.”

James managed to free himself and swim to the shore, where his friend called 911.

According to James’ doctors, he had three superficial bites and was covered in about 30 teeth marks as well as scratches from the alligator’s claws. They also found a tooth lodged in his back. Officials took the tooth to help them track down the alligator, but James hopes to get it back from them to make a necklace and show his friends. "It was a pretty big tooth," James said. "I want to put it on a necklace so then I can tell all my friends."

This isn’t the first time that James has gone swimming in Tohopekaliga, but after his close call he won’t set foot in it again, he said.


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