Drone footage captures moment 12 foot alligator attacks swimmer and clamps jaws around head
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Shocking drone footage has emerged showing the moment a triathlete was attacked by a 12 foot alligator while swimming in Florida. You can watch below:
Thankfully, Juan Carlos La Verde - who goes by 'JC Defeats' - lived to tell the tale, but he didn't leave the attack unscathed as the gator clamped its jaws around his head.
The US Air Force Pararescue veteran has opened up about the terrifying experience, which unfolded when he went swimming off a dock on Lake Thonotosassa on 3 August.
As is shown in the footage, which was supposed to be part of a video for his company Defeat X, the 12 foot beast can be seen heading straight for him before making contact.
Speaking to WFLA, the 34-year-old said: "I felt the equivalent of a telephone pole hit my face.
"And then because of my stroke I felt the scales and then I felt the teeth, so I knew what I was in."
JC's head remained in the gator's mouth for several seconds as it crushed part of his skull and broke his jaw.
He continued: "It was just one large bite. I heard my jaw snap and then I just continued swimming."
On a GoFundMe page, Kenney Ceron of the Oldsmar Fire Department, where JC now works as a firefighter and paramedic, explained that he somehow made it to land where he called Hillsborough County Emergency Services for help.
Kenney said: "He was then rushed to Tampa General Hospital under Trauma Alert criteria where he underwent a 6-hour surgery to repair and reconstruct the damage to his skull and jaw."
Despite the shocking experience, JC maintains a positive outlook on life, telling the outlet: "This story's about a miracle and also a call to action - find the joy, however that looks to you."
His wife Christine added: "He's always thinking about others even though the unthinkable was happening to him."
This sentiment was reflected in the GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $56,000 of its $80,000 goal to help support JC and his family during this challenging time.
Kenney explained: "JC is a man who has dedicated his entire life to helping others.
"He has always chosen a path of selfless and meaningful service committing his entire life to service."
As well as his service in the military and now the firefighting department, the triathlete competes in order to raise money for a variety of good causes, including the Heart Gallery of Tampa and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"It's no surprise to anyone who knows him that his latest career venture - Defeat X - is a business he created that focuses on helping others defeat their personal struggles through healthy exercise and outdoor adventure," added Kenney.
Anyone who'd like to help JC on his road to recovery can donate to the GoFundMe campaign here.