(WSVN) – A Florida man is home from the hospital after coming face-to-face with an alligator.
It’s been two weeks since the attack, but he still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.
On August 3rd, JC Defeats survived a brutal bite that was caught on camera at a lake in Hillsborough County.
“I always preach mitigated risk, and that day I failed and it went completely out the window,” Defeats said.
The 34-year-old said he forgot his swim cap and goggles, he also did not follow any of his usual safety precautions.
A drone filmed from above as Defeats swam in the body of water and an estimated 12-foot-long alligator darting straight for him.
“I was chomped down on this side, completely,” said Defeats as his hand gestured.
The alligator’s jaws came down on his head and upper torso.
“[I had] an unbelievable amount of faith in myself that I wasn’t going to die, I was going to be okay, but I needed to act for sure,” recalled Defeats. “She let go, and uh she didn’t have to let go.”
He immediately swam to a nearby dock. Neighbors called for help.
Defeats was rushed to Tampa General Hospital as a trauma alert where he underwent a 6-hour surgery because the force of the alligator’s bite crushed his head, broke his jaw, and damaged a facial nerve.
“The bite crushed his skull and it punctured his brain so they ended up having to do a craniotomy,” said Defeats wife, Chritine La Verde. “[Doctors] had to remove part of his temporal lobe.”
Defeats spent eight days in the hospital; he was discharged last week, but there’s still a risk of infection as his jaw is wired shut for another few weeks.
He will have to go back for one last surgery to place a plate over his brain, but he’s leaning on faith and family to carry him through.
“I’m asking you to be tough because the world is a really difficult place and man is it challenging to maneuver without God and ultimately Jesus Christ in your heart,” said Defeats.
It’s still unclear why the gator attacked, but state wildlife officials said this does not happen very often.
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