The reptiles have attacked six people this season in the Tampa Bay area
A Florida man is sharing his harrowing tale of survival after losing his arm in an alligator attack and wandering in the swamp for three days.
Eric Merda told CBS News that he got lost in the woods near the Lake Manatee Fish Camp in Myakka City on July 17. When he finally found his way back to the lake, he decided to swim across it to reach his truck.
"Not the smartest decision a Florida boy could make," Merda said. "I looked over and there's a gator on my right-hand side. So I went to swim and she got my forearm. So I grabbed her like this. She was trying to roll but she snapped her head. So my arm went backward like this completely."
Merda said the alligator drug him under three times as he fought for his life.
"She's already got my arm, so when we came up the third time, she finally did a death roll and took off with my arm.”
After surviving the alligator attack, Merda spent three days trying to find his way out of the swamp.
"You can't see anything. Everything's this tall. You know what I mean? Sometimes I felt like I was walking in circles. I didn't know. So, I started following the sun and power lines, stuff like that, things I could see," he said.
Finally, he came across a fence and saw a man on the other side.
"I said, 'Hey, man, I need some help.' And he says, 'What are you doing.' And I said, 'A gator got my arm.' He said, 'Holy smokes, man.'"
As one of a half dozen people who’ve been attacked by alligators around the Tampa Bay region this season, Merda is warning others of the danger.
"Do not feed the gators alright, and you guys know who you are, throwing rocks at them and stuff. I've seen it on the job sites. Leave them gators alone."
Stephanie Mallory is a mom, a hunter and Realtree’s PR Coordinator. She’s here to deliver an insider’s look at the outdoor business and give her opinion on all things outdoors—whether you asked for it or not.