Jordan Rivera, 23, was attacked by the 10-foot reptile after falling into a pond Sunday outside Banditos Bar in Port Charlotte during an outdoor bathroom break at 1:40 a.m., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told People in a statement Wednesday.
A patron, Manny Hidalgo, told The Daily Sun he heard screaming and hurried outside to find Rivera “yelling and swimming toward the shoreline.” Rivera was transported by helicopter to the Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, where his right arm was amputated.
“I didn’t lose my life, I lost an arm, it’s not the end of the world,” Rivera told NBC2.
Rivera explained he was motivated to urinate outside due to a long bathroom line at the bar. He told the outlet he doesn’t remember the attack itself, but must have “either tripped or the ground below me just went out” before he “ended up in the water.”
“Confusion,” Rivera told NBC2 about his first thoughts at the hospital. “I was like ‘Whoa.’ Because I just woke up and I was just sitting here. And I looked over and I saw my arm the way it was and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ It kind of feels like my arm is just there, but not there.”
Bystanders rushed to pull Rivera to shore and wrapped a lifesaving tourniquet around his arm.
Harrowing footage of the aftermath shared on social media showed Rivera writhing around in anguish as bystanders pulled him to shore and wrapped a lifesaving tourniquet around his wound. His bone is seen protruding from his arm.
“I call them angels, that were there, that saved his life,” Rivera’s mother, Teresa Lessa, told NBC2. “The chance of someone being there with a tourniquet, to me, it’s a miracle that he’s here.”
Rivera, who added that he would like to “shake the man’s hand” for saving him, is heading to rehabilitation in a few days after doctors finish cleaning his wound of the reptile’s remaining bacteria. As for the alligator itself, officials have trapped and euthanized it.
A GoFundMe campaign for Rivera has already raised $17,000 toward a $50,000 goal.
Rivera said he didn’t “truly understand” his situation until he realized a “gator got” his arm. The local told NBC2 that — while his arm was amputated above his elbow — he can still move his upper arm.
“That’s the best thing, is that I have him,” Lessa told the outlet. “Yes, arm gone, very traumatic. But he’s here.”