A TRIATHLETE narrowly escaped death after being attacked by a 12-foot alligator that clamped its jaws on its head while going for a swim, and drone footage captured the encounter.
34-year-old Juan Carlos La Verde, a former US Air Force paramedic and now a firefighter and paramedic in Oldsmar, Florida, was swimming in Lake Thonotosassa when the alligator came straight for him and attacked him.
La Verde recalls that the alligator only bit once on his head and chest before releasing him, according to WLFA 8 News.
“It was just a big bite,” he explained.
“I heard my jaw click and just kept swimming.”
Amazingly, La Verde’s friend and drone pilot was able to capture footage of the entire harrowing encounter, according to the Daily Mail.
The two shot an instructional video there for La Verde’s company DefeatX.
After feeling the shock of pain in his head, La Verde said he knew immediately what was going on, according to WFTS Tampa Bay.
“With the right shot I just felt scales, teeth and I was fine right there. So, I think I did what I felt was I immediately tried to open its jaws because I knew I was inside an alligator,” La Verde said.
This can be seen in the footage, and La Verde was able to swim to a nearby dock after being released by the alligator and even called 9-1-1 himself.
The drone pilot heard La Verde scream but reportedly didn’t know what had happened.
“Later he just told me he heard a scream and then he didn’t know what happened to me,” La Verde told WFTS.
A passer-by and Good Samaritan then found La Verde and drove him to the hospital, where he stayed 10 days and underwent a 6-hour operation.
La Verde’s injuries included multiple fractures in his jaw and a disfigurement of his skull, forcing doctors to perform a craniectomy and remove part of his right temporal lobe.
He now has to wear a helmet to protect the right side of his head and will have more surgeries in the future.
According to the GoFundMe page that was started for La Verde, he was indeed taken back to the hospital after fainting and hitting his head, but was then released again.
La Verde explained that he knew the risks of entering the lake without alligator precautions, but remains grateful he made it.
“I’m perfectly fine. I’m even better because it gave me a new perspective, you know, and not many people understand that,” La Verde noted.
His wife Christine and close friends will remain with him on his road to recovery.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6029950/terrifying-moment-triathlete-is-attacked-by-alligator-footage/ Terrifying moment triathlete is attacked by 12ft alligator that clamps its jaws on his head