Juan Carlos La Verde is lucky to be alive after he was viciously attacked by a 12-foot alligator on Aug. 3.
Drone Pilot Matt Ross was filming as La Verde jumped into the water at Lake Thonotosassa in Florida to tape an instructional video for his company, Defeat X. The video shows the 34-year-old swimming in the water, completely unaware that the massive alligator was heading directly toward him until they collided head on, and the animal began to attack.
“With the right stroke, all I felt was scales, teeth and then right there I’m like okay. So, what I think I did, what I felt like I did, was that I immediately tried to open its jaws because I knew I was in a gator,” La Verde told WFTS-TV.
“When I felt the teeth, I immediately knew, and then as I opened it I knew that I either turned it or it turned me, but it was confused just as I was confused, and then it just let go,” La Verde said, according to WFTS-TV. The huge alligator clamped its mouth down on La Verde’s head with a total pressure of roughly 2,000 pounds, according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay
La Verde said he initially didn’t see the alligator coming toward him due to the fact that he had forgotten his goggles that day, according to Fox 13. The duration of the attack lasted for just a few seconds, but La Verde’s fight against the alligator left him with very serious injuries and he faces a long road to recovery, according to the outlet. He suffered a crushed head, a broken jaw and a damaged facial nerve from the attack. (RELATED: REPORT: Police Officer Ties Up 7-Foot Alligator After It Takes Chunk Out Of Ray Schott’s Leg In Florida)
“The bite crushed his skull, and it punctured his brain. So, they ended up having to do a craniectomy, remove part of his temporal lobe,” La Verde’s wife Christine told Fox 13.
La Verde underwent six hours of surgery at Tampa Bay General Hospital and was released from the hospital just eight days later. Christina refers to her husband as a “walking miracle.”
La Verde’s jaw will remain wired shut for several weeks, and he will need to undergo another surgery to place a plate over his brain, according to Fox 13. In spite of all of this, his spirits remain high, and he credits his faith and family for carrying him through this challenging time.