A diver was lucky to survive after an alligator bit down on his head while he was searching a river for shark teeth.
Jeffrey Heim, 25, was left with horrific injuries, including a minor skull fracture, and needed 34 staples in his head.
He said he had “no time to defend himself” when he was attacked but the animal so hard he thought he had been hit by fast-moving boat.
Jeffrey was clad in only his diving gear as he searched the Myakka River in Florida for megalodon teeth before being attacked from behind by the female, nine-foot-long alligator, reported WFLA.
Speaking to Fox 35 he said he had only been in the water for about a minute before the incident occurred.
“I came up and I just get blasted by what felt like a propeller, like a boat going 50mph. It pulled me down with my mask off.
“You never understand the power of a wild animal like that until you’re in its mouth,” he said.
Jeffrey explained the alligator bit down twice on his head, while he desperately used his hand to protect his face.
“I think my hand may have protected my face because I got a puncture wound in the top and a puncture wound in the bottom but it just happened so fast there was no way I could have defended myself,” he said.
"We just looked at each other and I didn’t flail around because that would have just triggered its prey instincts even more.
“I was calm, thank God, so now I know how I react in a situation like that.”
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Luck was on his side, as the alligator suddenly lost interest and swam four feet away allowing him to slowly move backwards until he reached dry land.
“I just learned from dealing with sharks, you don’t wanna act like prey so you don’t wanna move too fast. So, I started slowly moving away,” he explained.
Once he was back on the shore, Jeffrey found four people who were able to call 911 and get him to a hospital.
He described struggling to remain conscious in the ambulance and said: “It’s very scary when you ask someone, ‘am I going to be ok?’ and they hesitate,” he said.
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“And they just reassure you and you can hear it in their voice that it’s worse than what they’re telling you. That’s scary."
The 25-year-old was left with a minor skull fracture, 34 stitches and puncture wounds to his hands but miraculously suffered no brain damage.
Jeffrey says he has learned from the attack and has a new appreciation for life after the horrifying ordeal.
He said: “Your life is worth more than any shark tooth or whatever that is for you, whatever you enjoy.
He added: “I’m lucky it didn’t death roll. I’m lucky it didn’t get an arm, or a hand, or my face, or my neck, or my leg, or literally anywhere else.”
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“I think he hit me right in the perfect spot. Someone was watching out.”
Jeffrey went on to claim that he was in the wrong for invading the alligator’s territory and that he believed she was protecting her eggs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Committee is continuing to search for the alligator and trapping efforts are ongoing.
In a statement it said: “FWC’s response to alligator bite incidents is to remove the alligator involved.
“FWC wildlife experts use sound methods and take only those alligators needed to resolve the risk to public safety.
“Analysis is conducted to ensure the responsible alligator has been removed.”
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