Drone Footage Captures Moment 12-Foot Alligator Attacks Swimmer

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The victim underwent six hours of surgery for a crushed skull and broken jaw

Drone footage caught the horrifying moment a man swimming in Florida's Lake Thonotosassa was attacked by a huge alligator.

J.C. Defeats is now out of the hospital, but has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

On August 3, the former U.S. Air Force pararescueman, and now Oldsmar firefighter and paramedic, was at Lake Thonotosassa shooting an instructional video for his company, Defeat-X, when his drone recorded the attack.

"That thing was huge. That thing wasn't a little gator. It would be funny if it was a little gator," Defeats told ABC Action News.

The jaws of what is believed to be a 12-foot-long gator came down on his head and upper torso. The attack lasted only seconds, but Defeats told Fox 13 News that knew he would make it out alive.

"An unbelievable amount of faith in myself that I wasn’t going to die," he recalled. "I was going to be OK, but I needed to act for sure."

Defeats said he stuck his hands in the alligator’s mouth.

"With the right stroke, all I felt was scales, teeth, and then right there I'm like okay. So, what I think I did, what I felt like I did, was that I immediately tried to open its jaws because I knew I was in a gator," Defeats told ABC Action News.

"When I felt the teeth, I immediately knew, and then as I opened it I knew that I either turned it or it turned me, but it was confused just as I was confused, and then it just let go."

He then swam to the dock, pulled himself out of the water, and a good Samaritan drove him to the hospital.

Defeats underwent a six-hour surgery for his crushed head, broken jaw, and damaged facial nerve.

JC’s wife, Christine La Verde, told Fox 13 News that the bite crushed his skull, and it punctured his brain. 

"So, they ended up having to do a craniectomy, remove part of his temporal lobe," she said.

After just eight days in the hospital, Defeats was released to go home.

His jaw will remain wired shut for another few weeks, and he will need one more surgery to place a plate over his brain. 

Defeats remains humble and is leaning on his faith and family.

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"I am perfectly fine. I am actually even better because this gave me a new perspective, you know, and not many people get that.

"Find your God. Find Him. It's silly. I get that that's scary, I do, but life is a scary place, so you can carry that load by yourself or have someone carry it for you."

The family has created a GofundMe to help with expenses. 

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