Wednesday 13 December 2017

Call the paramedics my arm is gone – teen survives alligator and posts picture on Facebook

Kaleb Langdale
Kaleb Langdale

AN alligator at least 3 metres long lunged at a teenager swimming in a river and bit off the his right arm below the elbow.

Kaleb Langdale, 17, survived the encounter on Monday in the Caloosahatchee River in Florida. Wildlife officers who caught and killed the alligator retrieved the arm, but doctors were unable to reattach it.

"We found the alligator that was responsible," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino said. "We were able to kill the alligator and dissect the alligator, remove the arm and transport the arm to the hospital to see if the doctors could reattach the limb."

The teen was rushed to a Fort Myers hospital but it was not possible to save his arm.

"He was swimming with some friends in the river, which they do frequently," Langdale's aunt LaDawn Hayes told "It's a very rural community with nowhere in the town for these kids to go. There's no city pool, so this is the only choice on 100 degree day."

While the boys were swimming, one friend yelled, "There's a gator!"

"Kaleb turned around to look [at his friend] and turned back and there was a gator a few feet away coming straight at him," Hayes said. The alligator was later measured at about 10 feet.

"The gator went down and Kaleb went down," Hayes said. "He grabbed the gator underneath his bottom jaw, on that skin, and had pretty good control until the tail came around and slapped him in the back. At that point, his hand broke loose from the gator's jaw."

The brave teenager told his aunt how he made a split second decision to escape saying it was either his arm or his life.

His friends told Fort Myers television station WBBH that while the arm could not be reattached, Langdale was in good spirits.

The alligator went straight for Langdale as he was swimming, Matt Baker said.

"It came at him and he put his arm in the way instead of letting it get to his body. It took his arm and him under," Baker said.

Another friend said Langdale popped out of the water shortly after being bitten.

"He was waving saying, 'Call the paramedics! My arm is gone!'" Gary Beck said.

His aunt told ABC that before he underwent surgery he insisted that she take his picture and post it on Facebook. “Let everyone know I'm okay and I can still drive my airboat. Let them know it was my right arm and not my left," he said.

Alligators are more active this time of year because it's their mating season, which makes them more aggressive and inquisitive as they're looking for food and for mates. Wildlife officers warn that alligators can call just about any body of water in Florida home.

It is rare for wild alligators to bite humans, though, Pino said.

Since 1948, 224 people have suffered major alligator bites, including 22 fatal bites, according to June 2011 conservation commission data.

Wildlife officials were investigating what caused the alligator to bit Langdale.

Last month, an airboat captain was giving a tour in southwest Florida when a 9-foot (3 meter) alligator bit off his left hand. The Indiana family on the boat said the captain had hung a fish over the side of the boat and had his hand at the water's surface when the alligator bit him.

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