Alligator Bites Off Night Swimmer's Arm

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Swimming at night can frighten just about anyone — something about the unknown blackness below your feet (and a certain shark movie that opens at night) can unsettle even the normally brave. 18-year-old Kasey Edwards isn't going to make anybody feel any safer: While swimming across a 25-foot-deep canal at 2 a.m. in Okeechobee County, Florida, an 11-and-a-half foot alligator attacked him and bit off his left arm.

He escaped by grabbing on to a buoy line as the gator went into a death roll. When the gator let go, he swam to escape and noticed his arm was gone. Friends pulled Edwards to safety, and now he's in the hospital listed in fair condition, other than missing a left arm 3-4 inches above the elbow. In an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Edwards ascribes his survival to intervention by a higher power:

"It's a very surreal feeling. You know, feeling like you're about to die here and you know, praying to God," Edwards said. "I have to give all the credit to God for keeping me out there."

"I don't care who you are or how strong you think you are. You aren't going to be able to hold on to a buoy line while an 11½-foot alligator is trying to pull you underwater," he said.

The official report indicates that Edwards had been drinking and "may have been impaired" at the time of the incident. The report also states that his friends urged him not to attempt the late-night channel crossing. Still, Edwards thinks some of the fault should go to the alligator:

"Edwards said his attack shows something needs to be done about the overpopulation of gators.

"They're not protected creatures. They're nuisance animals," he said.

Edwards mentioned he never paid "too much mind" to canal-swimming gators in the past, but it's probably a safe bet he'll pay them plenty of attention before attempting another late-night channel crossing.

— Ted Alvarez

Alligator bites off arm of late-night swimmer in Okeechobee (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)