A brave 9-year-old in Florida is in hospital recovering after an encounter with a 9-foot, 400lb alligator he fought of with his bare hands.
James Barney Jr, reportedly spoke calmly and eloquently about his ordeal from hospital, where he was tucked up in bed with a teddy bear by his side.
He was covered in some 30 teeth marks, doctors said.
The little boy described how it was a hot day so he had parked his bike and jumped into Lake Tohopekaliga – a lake that people are forbidden to swim in – when he felt something brush against his leg.
‘It really amazed me what happened. At first, I thought someone was just playing with me, and I didn’t know what happened,’ he told ABC.
‘I reached down to grab it, and I felt its jaw, I felt its teeth, and I didn’t know what to do, so I immediately reacted and hit it a couple times.
And I had enough strength to pry its jaw open.’
The child pulled the powerful jaws open long enough to slide out and swim to shore.
Witnesses say the boy surfaced, screaming that he’d been bitten by an alligator.
They immediately called 911.
‘There was a big alligator, about five feet away from him,’ one caller said.
The little boy advised people to stay out of the lake – but says he wants to wear the alligator’s tooth to show his friends
‘He was crawling up the shore, screaming and crying and gator bites all over his back.’
He was airlifted to hospital where doctors found he had suffered three superficial bites and about 30 teethmarks as well as scratches from the gator’s claws.
Doctors found a tooth in one of the little boy’s wounds.
‘I want to put it on a necklace so that I can tell all my friends,’ he told ABC.
Fish and wildlife officials have taken the tooth to help them find the alligator, but James Barney, Jr is hopeful he’ll get it back.
The boy’s father James Barney, Sr, said his son often swims in the lake, but when asked if he’ll be doing so ever again, he told the Orlando Sentinel, ‘Negative.’