PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A Florida man said he is lucky to be alive after losing an arm to a 10 1/2-foot alligator early Sunday.
Jordan Rivera, 23, of Englewood, was injured after he fell into a pond and was attacked by the reptile behind Banditos Bar in Port Charlotte at closing time, WZVN-TV reported.
“Those gators, I didn’t truly understand them until I woke up in the hospital and, ‘Oh, gator got your arm,” Rivera told the television station. “I didn’t lose my life, I lost an arm; it’s not the end of the world, you know.”
An alligator attacked a man in Port Charlotte early Sunday morning, tearing off the man’s arm. Thirty-six hours after the attack, Jordan Rivera invited ABC7 to share his story of survival. 📲 https://t.co/7Ec8v1uGz8— ABC7 News (@ABC7SWFL) May 23, 2023
At about 1:42 a.m. EDT near closing time, Rivera said he was frustrated by a long line to the restroom and decided to venture outside to a pond near the bar, WZVN reported.
“So I ended up walking over to the water hole, I didn’t realize how big it was at the time, as I was going over there something happened where I either tripped or the ground below me just went down,” Rivera told the television station. “I ended up in the water. And that’s literally the last thing I remember.”
Manny Hidalgo, of Cape Coral, was inside the bar when he heard screams coming from the pond, The Daily Sun of Port Charlotte reported. He grabbed his phone and used the flashlight on the device to locate Rivera.
“He was yelling and swimming toward the shoreline,” Hidalgo told the newspaper. “I ran and dragged him up onto the sand. I was scared to get close to the water because it was dark out.”
Charlotte County Fire and EMS spokesperson Todd Dunn confirmed the victim’s arm was amputated during the attack, The Daily Sun reported. He was flown by helicopter to Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers.
When Rivera woke up, he was in the ICU with cables around him, WBBH-TV reported. His right arm was missing up to his upper elbow and he was in a daze.
“Confusion. I was like ‘Whoa’. Because I just woke up and I was just sitting here. And I looked over and I saw my arm the way it was and I was like, ‘Whoa,’” Rivera told WZVN. “It kind of feels like my arm is just there, but not there.
“It was just the craziest thing. It’s almost out of a movie.”
Trappers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission caught and then later euthanized the alligator on Sunday, WINK-TV reported.
“I was scared for sure,” Hidalgo told The Daily Sun about dragging Rivera to shore. “(The alligator) was a pretty big guy. I’m not sure how I did it. I guess my adrenaline kicked in.
“I don’t know if it was a mama gator trying to save her young, or a daddy gator trying to feed his family. But the guy was very lucky.”