Florida Man Attacked by 12ft Alligator: 'All I Felt Was Scales, Teeth'

A Florida man who was bitten on the face by 12-foot alligator had to undergo a six-hour-long surgery on his skull and jaw.

JC La Verde, firefighter and paramedic for Oldsmar Fire Rescue, had been swimming in Lake Thonotosassa, towards the northeast of Tampa, on August 3 when the alligator attacked, according to a GoFundMe page.

He will need further medical treatment and will have to wear a helmet to protect his head in the meantime, WFTS reported

Florida is home to 1.3 million alligators. They can be found in all 67 counties of the state that is home to more than 21 million people. They lurk in swamps and wetlands across the state. Lake Thonotosassa is the largest natural lake in Hillsborough County.

"If people want to see this any other way than a legit miracle it's silly to think that. I shouldn't be alive," La Verde told WFTS.

Alligator
A stock photo shows an alligator in a Florida swamp. A man was attacked by an alligator while swimming. williamhc/Getty

La Verde had been swimming in order to shoot a promotional video for his business Defeat X, which "focuses on helping others defeat their personal struggles through healthy exercise and outdoor adventure," according to the GoFundMe page. A friend had been filming nearby and heard his screams as the alligator attacked.

"With the right stroke all I felt was scales, teeth and then right there I'm like okay. So, what I think I did what I felt like I did was that I immediately tried to open its jaws because I knew I was in a gator," La Verde told WFTS. "When I felt the teeth I immediately knew and then as I opened it I knew that I either turned it or it turned me but it was confused just as I was confused and then it just let go."

La Verde said that he is usually cautious when entering the lake, but this time he was in a rush and did not take proper precautions.

"I am perfectly fine. I am actually even better because this gave me a new perspective you know and not many people get that," he told the news outlet.

On August 16, an update to the GoFundMe page said La Verde was readmitted to the hospital after he fainted and hit his head.

"We were obviously very worried as he does not have any bone on the right side of his head for protection. They did the work up and he is finally clear. We are back at home and trying to figure out our new norm," the statement said.

Though they are fearsome predators, alligators rarely attack unless they feel threatened or provoked in some way. Attacks are more common in the summer months, as more people swim during this time of year.

Newsweek has contacted La Verde for a comment.