Swimmer's arm found in gator's belly

By Lindsay Cohen

MELBOURNE, FL (WFLX) - It started as a late-night swim across a canal. It ended up with a teen fighting off an alligator. Now, we're hearing what happened in the moments after the attack.

If a picture is worth a thousand words: This one would include hundreds - expressing pain and agony. "I just felt something lock down, had the sensation of needle-nosed pliers, just a gigantic set of them, clamping down."

Kasey Edwards shares his story of an alligator clamping down on his arm as he tried to swim across a canal off of Lake Okeechobee over the weekend.

Now, the 9-1-1 calls revealing the panic after a gator ripped off almost the entire limb.

Dispatch: 911
Caller: Listen. Hey, Ma'am.
Dispatch: Yes
Caller: I just called about that alligator bite.
Dispatch: He got bit by an alligator?
Caller: His arm is gone! The arm, gone.

Friends, and, eventually, paramedics try to keep Edwards from bleeding out.

Caller: We got pressure wrapped around his arm with a shirt. We're holding. We're holding stable pressure.
Dispatch: Okay.
Caller: We need a paramedic.
Dispatch: All right. I'll get 'em there to ya, okay?

Edwards survived the attack. Telling us, he knows gators tend to roll their prey. So, he was able to grab a hold of buoys in the water to keep from being pulled under.

His arm, completely, severed. But, his outlook on life, stronger than ever. "It seems like there's a crossroads. Either you have a positive attitude, you know, make the best of a bad situation, or just set there and feel sorry for yourself."

Authorities harvested seven alligators from the lock as a result of the incident.

One of them, an 11-foot long gator, found with Edwards' human arm in its stomach.

Police noted beer bottles nearby.

By Chuck Weber

MELBOURNE, FL (WFLX) - An 11-foot long alligator grabbed an 18-year-old man swimming near a Lake Okeechobee lock early Sunday morning. Kasey Edwards lost his arm, but not his life. On Monday, he spoke exclusively with Fox 29 about his dramatic survival.

At Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Edwards was walking the hallways exuding a positive attitude. "It seems like there's a crossroads," said Edwards.  "Either you have a positive attitude, you know make the best of a bad situation, or just sit there and feel sorry for yourself."

Edwards says he has the perfect family for helping him through the challenging recovery still to come.

Kasey says he's heard rumors about what happened. He says he and his friends had been drinking earlier, but insists that played no role in his decision to go for a swim. It was around 2:00 in the morning when he jumped in the channel at Nubbin Slough lock on Lake Okeechobee.

Edwards soon felt something grabbing his arm. "I just felt something lock down. [It] had the sensation of needle-nosed pliers, just a gigantic set of them, clamping down."

Having hunted alligators before and knowing how they roll and spin their prey, Edwards latched onto a line of buoys that cross the channel. He held on for dear life.

"You know I was just holding on with everything I could for this gator trying to pull me under," exclaims Edwards.  "I'd surface, get a gasp of air, and then he'd just shake again and pull me under.  He did it about five times."

Kasey says he tried gouging the gator's eyes, a hunter's trick. As the gator moved away, Edwards started swimming away. "I still, at this time, didn't realize my arm was gone," says Edwards. "My adrenaline was pumping. I swam to the other side of the bank."

There, friends pulled him from the water and called for help. Kasey credits his friends and the medics who responded for saving his life.

A miracle? "For me to hold on like that," said Kasey. "What do you think?"  Edwards says he feels God and the angels were with him.

The State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it captured the gator that took Edwards' arm.  The creature measured longer than 11 feet.

Edwards and his family believe the State needs to do more to thin the gator population which, they say, has become a nuisance in many areas.

FWC spokesman Jorge Pino responded that his agency bases its decisions on biology, but welcomes public input.