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Florida Fossil Hunter Recovering After Alligator Pulls Him to the Bottom of the Cooper River

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Florida Fossil Hunter Recovering After Alligator Pulls Him to the Bottom of the Cooper River

Posted 2024-05-01  by  Stephanie Mallory

Will Georgitis escaped the attack with a broken arm and bite wounds

Will Georgitis is fortunate to be alive after being viciously attacked by an alligator in Florida’s Cooper River.

Georgitis was diving for fossils with scuba gear in the river when a large alligator grabbed his arm and dragged him to the bottom.

He told that he spotted the alligator making a beeline right toward him during his April 15 dive.

He said the gator opened its jaws a foot from him. Believing the reptile was going to bite his head, he threw up his right arm to block it. The alligator clamped own on his forearm.

Knowing the alligator would likely try to pull him down beneath the surface and roll with him, Georgitis says he wrapped his free arm and both legs around the alligator's body so he'd roll with it.

He said the alligator was so large he was unable to hook his ankles together when he wrapped his legs around it.

"And I'm 6' 2,” he said.

Georgitis said he tried to stab the alligator in the eye with a screwdriver he uses to pry fossils out of the river bed.

He said the alligator immediately shook him "like a rag doll" and dove to the bottom of the Cooper River where it pinned him with the weight of its body. He then tried stabbing the alligator in the mouth with the screwdriver while struggling to get free.

Then his scuba tank ran out of air.

"I knew I was going to die right then and there," Georgitis said.

As a last hope, he tried to free himself by ripping off his own arm by planting his feet on the alligator and pushing as hard as he could.

Georgitis said the gator's teeth scraped over his arm instead of tearing it off. He managed to break free and swim to the surface where a friend drug him out of the water and into a boat.

"It was a living nightmare," Georgitis said.

He escaped the encounter with bite wounds and a broken bone in his lower right arm. The other bone was dislocated. Surgeons secured the arm with a metal plate and nine screws.

"A ton" of staples were needed to close the teeth wounds, Georgitis said. More surgery might be necessary, along with six months to recover.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) plans to send a team to search for the alligator, but may not be able to identify it unless the screwdriver left wounds.

"The SCDNR has received a report of an individual receiving a non-fatal bite from an alligator while scuba diving on the Cooper River," a statement from the SCDNR said. "Details are not available at this time, and the incident is under investigation.”

Georgitis is warning other divers that there are dangerous alligators in the Cooper River.

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