The Florida teen who miraculously wrestled a 10-foot alligator and survived spoke out for the first time about his ordeal and said he "knew I either got to lose this arm or I'm gonna die."
Kaleb "Fred" Langdale, 17, told NBC News that after the alligator clamped on to his right arm Monday as he swam in the Caloosahatchee River west of Lake Okeechobee, he tried to recreate what he saw on reality television in order to escape.
“I took my left hand and grabbed that skin underneath him to try to control him, and he just kept going,’’ Langdale said in explaining what he'd seen professional trappers do on TV. “I pulled his head up and I wrapped my legs around him and he just went and dove.’’
Even though he lost his right arm below the elbow, the teenager exuded a calm optimism that likely saved his life. After escaping from the gator's maw, Langdale said he swam to shore and squeezed his mangled arm between his legs to stop the bleeding before rescue workers arrived.
“I'm glad he chose me instead of one of my friends because I don't think they would have done the same thing and got out of it,’’ Langdale said of the gator, which has been tagged as a nuisance and just a few hours later was scheduled to be captured.
The gator was later killed by a trapper and Langdale’s arm was found in its stomach but doctors were unable to re-attach it.
No matter. As Langdale awaited surgery Wednesday at Lee Memorial Hospital where he is recovering, he kept his sense of humor. Asked by a nurse how he felt, the teenager cracked, "I feel like I got my arm bit off."
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Langdale's relatives set up an online donation site to help him get a prosthetic arm.