‘I was inside its mouth’: Diver reveals what it is live to survive an alligator attack

Jeffrey Heim needed three dozen staples in head wound after shocking attack

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 04 June 2021 03:40 BST
Man, diving for prehistoric shark teeth, bitten by alligator

A diver suffered a fractured skull after being bitten on the head by an alligator in a Florida river.

Jeffrey Heim was collecting prehistoric shark teeth to turn into jewelry when the reptile attacked him in the waters of the Myakka River.

“I thought I got hit by a propeller, it hit me so fast. It felt like a boat was going 50mph,” Mr Heim told WFTS. “I realized I was inside it’s mouth and if the alligator hadn’t decided to let me go on its own, there was nothing I could have done to fight it.”

He said that he soon realized he had suffered injuries to his head and his hands.

“I look up and the gator’s just looking at me about four feet in front of me,” he said.

“Then he started coming at me. I just learned from dealing with sharks, you don’t wanna act like prey so you don’t wanna move too fast. So, I started slowly moving away.”

Witnesses called 911 and an ambulance arrived at the scene within minutes and took Mr Heim to hospital, where he received more than three dozen staples in his head injuries.

“I’m lucky it didn’t death roll,” he added.

“I’m lucky it didn’t get an arm, or a hand, or my face, or my neck, or my leg or literally anywhere else.”

“Because of the bite force on those animals, he could have got me anywhere else and I would have died.”

Mr Heim, an experienced diver and commercial fisherman, says he probably should not have been diving in the river during alligator mating season, which lasts from May to June..

“I was in its territory. I didn’t weigh the risk to the rewards. Technically it’s gator mating season, so this was probably a female protecting her eggs,” he said.

Now he will stick to diving in the Gulf of Mexico and has called for the animal to be spared if it is caught.

“I’ve never cried so much in my life. And not from the pain, just from the realisation of what I’ve gone through and how I was literally an inch away from death,” he said.

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