A 22-year-old animal handler in Florida is recovering after being attacked by a 13-foot, 800-pound alligator Saturday when a stunt went horribly wrong.
Will Nace as a volunteer at the Native Village wildlife sanctuary in Hollywood was performing tricks with the alligator for a group of people celebrating a birthday when the animal lunged for him, according to WSVN-TV. The trick was actually called “lunge alligator,” which has the handler tap the gator on the nose, but this time the alligator “ended up lunging at me before I got to his nose.”
At this point, the alligator “grabbed my hand and bent it backwards and bit down. The situation escalated further when the animal pulled Nace by the arm back into the water and “went into what we call a death roll,” co-owner of the wildlife sanctuary Ian Tyson told WSVN.
“They’re trying to tear something off, and luckily enough, Will had enough knowledge to hold on to the alligator with his other hand and roll with the alligator,” Tyson continued.
“I held on, basically, because he decided to roll one way,” Nace said. “He pulled me back all the way in the water, rolled with me. I was completely submerged underwater with him, and then by the time he came back … out of the water, he’d let go.”
Even though Nace said he could feel the bones in his arm breaking — his arm broke in two places — his primary concern at the time was just getting out of the gator’s mouth. In addition to the broken bones, WSVN reported that Nace is now fighting an infection from the wounds and might require skin grafts.
Even still, Tyson said the animal is not to blame for what took place as it is still technically a wild animal.
Nace had been performing this stunt with the animal three to four times per day within the past year without problems, according to WSVN.
“It wasn’t the alligator’s fault,” Tyson said. “[Will found] himself in that situation. He knows that this is a wild animal that he’s dealing with. He got himself into a bad spot.”
Nace also said “I just wasn’t on my ‘A’ game” the day of the incident.