A Florida man attacked by an alligator last week is lucky to be alive—and he realizes it.
Jeffrey Heim, 25, was diving for shark teeth in the Myakka River between Sarasota and Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast when the unprovoked gator attack happened. While alligator attacks aren’t common, Heim lived to tell a tale of surviving one.
“I’m following the sand looking for the gravel,” he told WTSP-TV. “I come up and just get blasted. Felt like a propeller on a boat going 50 miles an hour. It pulled me down, pulled my mask off.”
“I was in the water for a minute, not even, and it was an unprovoked attack,” he added, noting that he is accustomed to swimming in Florida waters and typically isn’t phased by alligators.
“There’s nothing I could’ve done,” he added. “No gun, no weapon.”
Heim ended up with a skull fracture in the encounter, which he described as a “mild depressed skull fracture,” requiring 34 staples in his head to close the wound. He also received puncture wounds in his right hand.
Though he was transported to a local hospital for treatment, he never lost consciousness and is now recuperating from the encounter. His advice to those who experience something similar is to try to remain calm, as challenging as it may be to do so.
Doctors note that he doesn’t appear to have any brain damage from the encounter, as is expected to recover fully.
As for the alligator? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported plans for a licensed trapper to locate the wild animal and remove it from the water. That’s part of the procedure for what’s known as the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, or SNAP, which addresses complaints on specific alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.
Though he says, “I hate asking for money,” he’s set up a GoFundMe page to aid in his recovery.