A Florida man survived three days in a swamp after an alligator ripped off his arm trying to swim in the lake – a decision he admits was “not the wisest decision a Florida boy can make “.
Eric Merda, 43, of Sarasota, was visiting Lake Manatee Fish Camp in Myakka City on July 17 when he got lost.
He said he hit the water and decided to swim across.
“I look over and there’s an alligator on my right side,” he told 10 Tampa Bay.
“She caught my forearm so I grabbed her like this, she tried to roll over.”
Merda said he was dragged under the water three times, but he fought back, and eventually the alligator left — with his arm.
“She snapped her head so my arm went so completely backwards,” he said.
Merda managed to swim to shore, screaming for help in pain.
“Bones are sticking out, muscles, if I try to move my fingers you could see them twitch,” he said.
Eric Merda, 43, speaks about the moment an alligator grabbed his arm as he was swimming in a lake
Merda can be seen in a photo taken after the July 17 attack
Merda said he walked for three days until he found a fence and saw a man whom he asked for help.
“I said an alligator got my arm, he said, ‘Holy smoker!’
The rescuer said he found Merda naked and bloodied in the swamp.
“I didn’t know if he was dead or alive when I first stepped on him,” the rescuer said.
“And there’s nothing, no words can describe it, you know.”
He told Fox News 13 that Merda was obviously in agony.
“He was in a lot of pain. He was just like help, help, help. He talked to us and everything.
“They cut the fence, they helped him up, and he actually went to the ambulance.”
Merda was immediately flown to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where doctors amputated the remains of his arm.
An alligator scavenger was dispatched to the scene, but it’s unknown if the animal that attacked Merda was found.
There have been at least six alligator attacks near Tampa so far this year, 10 Tampa Bay reported.
Fatal alligator attacks are rare in the United States, typically occurring about once a year. So far, however, there have been two in the Tampa area.
On July 15, an 80-year-old woman was killed after falling into the canal near her home at Boca Royale Golf and Country Club in Englewood, about 30 miles south of Sarasota.
A man believed to be searching for frisbees in a lake was killed in Largo, a Tampa Bay-area town, in late May.
Merda is pictured before the attack, grabbing his right arm