A 23-year-old man lost his arm after he was attacked by an alligator near Banditos bar in Fort Charlotte, Florida, early on Sunday morning, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said, noting that there is a pond near the bar. The man was rushed to the hospital with significant injuries where doctors had to finally amputate one of his arms.
An alligator that was 10 feet and five inches long was removed from the pond and "humanely killed," according to a release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Authorities haven't yet revealed the name of the victim.
Authorities with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, EMS, and the state wildlife agency responded to the incident alongside the emergency services provider.
Manny Hidalgo, a witness, was inside the bar when he heard screaming coming from a pond outside, prompting him to go investigate.
"He was yelling and swimming toward the shoreline," Hidalgo told The Daily Sun while describing how he braved gator-infested waters to help save the victim from the 10-foot animal.
"I ran and dragged him up onto the sand. I was scared to get close to the water because it was dark out."
Hidalgo said that he was afraid when he entered the water and claimed that he was still in shock from the incident.
"He was a pretty big guy. I'm not sure how I did it. I guess my adrenaline kicked in," Hidalgo said.
"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."
According to an official with Charlotte County Fire and EMS, the man was flown by helicopter to the Gulf Coast Hospital in Fort Myers, where he underwent surgery to amputate his arm.
Doctors tried to save his arm but couldn't as excessive blood flow from his limbs put his life at risk.
The incident is being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The alligator was found and removed from the property after the government dispatched a nuisance alligator trapper to the scene.
The authorities claimed that the animal was humanely killed.
According to Mark Christenson, a longtime resident of the region, alligators are known to hide in the water close to the bar.
"We've seen gators back here, and we hear 'em croaking," he told WINK News.
"There's a bunch of cat tails and reeds in the back that are run down. And that means gators. So there's been a big boy back here for a while."
Ron Williams told the outlet that he visited Banditos bar at 1.45 a.m., right before it closed.
"We heard screaming. I just so happened to walk out on the porch about the same time, and just a group of people came running up in a panic," he said.
"You can see it on their face, and they said, 'Somebody's got their arm bit off.'
"And we're trying to figure out what to do to help but apparently, they already dragged him out of the water and called for help.
"And they showed up pretty quick and got him out. Got him somewhere and medivac him."
According to wildlife officials, a trapper took a 10.5-foot alligator off the property after capturing it.