An alligator bit a Florida man “in the face” as he was swimming in Lake Thonotosassa near Tampa on Thursday (August 4), according to local officials.
In a statement provided to CNN, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they received a call about a man screaming at around 3:45 p.m.
“I just heard a scream and I looked up, and I didn’t see anything,” a witness told Fox 13.
The witness did not want to appear on camera, but he stated that the injured swimmer was a long distance away and did not appear to be frightened after it happened.
“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 wasn’t until the unidentified witness made his way back to the private property where he had parked his vehicle that it became evident an alligator had mauled the man.
“It was pretty gnarly, it was definitely an alligator bite on his face,” he said.
“He had a big gash on his face and he had a towel covering his wound, and then he said that they called 911. 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.”
The seriously injured 34-year-old victim was then rushed to the hospital by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue around 4 p.m.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission all responded to the incident. Alligator trappers were sent to Lake Thonotosassa to search for the reptile.
Alligator bites at Lake Thonotosassa have never been reported before, according to neighbor Jamie Slatton. But he also said there’s been a gator causing problems recently, and that a trapper has been attempting to remove it for the past four months.
“I’ve been out here my whole life, we swim behind the house, my kids swim behind the house,” said Slatton.
“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,” he explained.
In the U.S. this year, there have been at least three deadly alligator attacks. A senior woman from Florida died in July after being attacked by two alligators when she fall into a lake. In June, an alligator at a retention pond in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, killed another individual. And in late May, an alligator in Florida killed a man who was looking for Frisbees in a lake.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating Wednesday’s gator attack.
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