Juan Carlos La Verde was swimming in the brackish waters of Lake Thonotosassa when he came face to snout with a 12 foot alligator. The 34 year-old Oldsmar Firefighter didn’t have his goggles during his swim so he didn’t even see the gator coming. However, drone footage caught the whole thing!
As soon as he felt the gators teeth pierce his head, he heard his skull make a loud “pop” sound. Even though he was in the jaws of death, that didn’t stop him from fighting back. As the adrenaline was kicking in he thought “I have to get this thing off me.” It looked like the gator was about to a “death roll,” a known attack gators use to dismember any prey or threat. He overpowered the gator by getting his hands inside the jaws and pulled as hard as he could. As soon as he got free, you notice the alligator completely disappears in the greenish lake.
There have been three fatal alligator attacks this year in Florida and 18 attacks overall. So we’re happy to report that La Verde will reach a full recovery. He was transported to Tampa General Hospital where neurosurgeons and ENT team performed a six-hour live saving surgery. He will still require more surgeries over the next several months before he reaches a full recovery.
To help cover some of his medical costs, his wife Christine, and a few of his coworkers started a GoFundMe. Despite the almost deadly attack, La Verde doesn’t want the alligator to be removed from the lake.
Watch the shocking footage of his escape below!