A 9-year-old Florida boy has the best back-to-school story ever after he fought off a 400-pound alligator and suffered only minor injuries.
James Barney Jr. was riding his bike with friends on Thursday when he decided to swim in a restricted area of East Lake Tohopekaliga, according to St. Cloud officials.
“At first I thought someone was just playing with me and I didn't know what happened,” Barney told the Orlando Sentinel.
He felt teeth and tried to fight back.
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“I reached down to go grab it and I felt its jaw - I felt its teeth and I didn't know what to do, so I immediately reacted and hit a couple of times,” he said. “And then finally I had enough strength left to pry its jaw open a little.”
A witness reported seeing a 9-foot alligator in the lake Thursday and trappers have been hired to catch it.
Barney suffered only “superficial” puncture wounds.
“The alligator bit him several times, looking like it was trying to get a hold on him,” said Dr. Ross Morgan of Arnold Palmer Hospital. “It did get his leg, his back side, his abdomen – he’s got about 30 different teeth marks of varying degree and several that are probably the scratch-marks of the claws.”
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Doctors found one of the alligator’s teeth embedded in his skin and Barney told them he wants to keep it and put it on a necklace.
When asked if he would swim in that lake again his answer was, “Negative.”
Image screenshot: Orlando Sentinel