In July 2012 a 17 year-old boy in Moore Haven (Fla.) was attacked by an alligator while swimming in a river, and his arm was bitten off. A nearby teen dialed 911 to report the incident.
There’s not a shred of self-pity or doubt in Fred Langdale’s voice a year after an alligator attack that took most of his right arm.
“I’ve coped with it,” the 18-year-old said. “I do everything I did before, but it’s a challenge and I like a challenge.”
Family and friends agree that the polite Moore Haven man has done remarkably well since the attack, which was reported around the United States and the world, earning Langdale instant celebrity status for his courage and survival skills.
Langdale was swimming in the Caloosahatchee River with friends on July 9, 2012, when they noticed a gator, estimated to be about 11 feet long.
He said his friends started yelling, “alligator,” usually a joke, but he looked and there was one in front of him.
Langdale said he grabbed the gator beneath its jaw, by the skin, and the alligator pulled him down. It was a maneuver, Langdale later said, that he learned by watching a reality show about swamp animals.
He let go and began to swim away, but when he threw his arm behind him, the gator grabbed it and started pulling.
He said that he figured it was better to lose an arm than his life so he played tug-of-war with the gator until his arm came free, minus three-fourths of it.