GRAPHIC: Florida man survives alligator attack caught on camera

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 9:26 AM HST
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TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) - A Florida man is on the mend after a life-threatening experience in the water.

J.C. La Verde was able to fight off an alligator attack, and although he has at least another surgery in the future, he said he’s thankful to be alive.

“If you want to see this in any other way than a legit miracle, it’s silly of you,” La Verde said.

La Verde is accustomed to dangerous situations.

His current career as a firefighter and paramedic, as well as his background as a U.S. Air Force pararescue, has allowed him to handle stressful situations.

Little did he know, he would be in the center of one.

“That thing was huge. That thing wasn’t a little gator. It would be funny if it was a little gator,” he said.

Two weeks ago, he was shooting an instructional video for his company DefeatX.

His friend, who was shooting from above with a drone, captured an estimated 12-foot alligator, heading straight for La Verde.

“With the right stroke, all I felt was scales, teeth and then right there, I’m like, ‘Oh, OK,’” La Verde said. “So, what I think I did, what it felt like I did, was that I immediately tried to open its jaws, because I knew I was in a gator.”

La Verde then put his hands in the alligator’s mouth and the two struggled.

“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,” he said. “But it was confused, just as I was confused, and then it just let go.”

He swam to the dock, hoisted himself up and was driven to the hospital by a good Samaritan. All the while, calling 911 himself and explaining what had just happened.

“I am not going to put extra stress on somebody that is already driving a bloody man somewhere,” La Verde said. “Like if I can ease that load off of this lady.”

La Verde underwent an emergency six-hour surgery and will need another one in the future.

Currently, he wears a helmet to protect the right side of his head.

Through it all, he remains humble and grateful.

“Find your god. Find him. It’s silly. I get that that’s scary, I do,” he said. “But life is a scary place, so you can carry that load by yourself or have someone carry it for you.”

La Verde is the 18th person to be attacked by an alligator in Florida this year.