Former U.S. Air Force member and current firefighter and paramedic, Juan Carlos La Verde, was brutally attacked by a massive 12-foot long alligator while swimming in Lake Thonotosassa in Florida two weeks ago. He was training for an event his company, Defeat X was putting on.
The 34-year-old ended up having to be rushed to the hospital after being bit in the face.
While La Verde was training in the lake, he was making a promotional video, and drone footage captured the horrific attack.
In the video, you can see the alligator and La Verde swimming towards each other, and then you see the struggle ensue between the two.
He recalled the terrifying attack in an interview with WESH 2:
“I felt the equivalent of a telephone pole hit my face and then because of my stroke, I felt the scales, then I felt the teeth, so I knew what I was in.”
He says he was in the gator’s mouth for several seconds, and it ended up crushing part of his skull and breaking his jaw:
“It was just one large bite. I heard my jaw snap and I just continued swimming.”
Luckily, he was able to swim away to a nearby dock, where he alerted first responders and he was rushed to the hospital.
He spent 10 days there, undergoing a six-hour surgery. He has multiple bone fractures in his jaw, and underwent a craniectomy where doctors had to remove part of his right temporal lobe.
Nevertheless, La Verde is still keeping a positive attitude:
“The story is about a miracle and also a call to action. Find the joy, however that looks like to you, that’s my challenge to you, find it.”