Jeffrey Heim said the animal, found within the state's Myakka River, had him "inside its mouth"

By Nicholas Rice
June 04, 2021 12:36 PM

One Florida man has a lot to be thankful for these days.

Last weekend, while searching for prehistoric shark teeth in the Myakka River, Jeffrey Heim was attacked by an alligator that he said had him "inside its mouth," NBC News reported.

"I'm following the sand looking for the gravel. I come up and just get blasted," Heim, 25, recalled to CBS affiliate WTSP. "Felt like a propeller on a boat going 50 mph. It pulled me down, pulled my mask off."

"I was in the water for a minute, not even, and it was an unprovoked attack," the Tampa resident, who often swims in the Florida waters, added. "There's nothing I could've done. No gun, no weapon."

Heim told NBC News that he believes the alligator was about 9 feet long and likely a female who was potentially trying to protect her eggs.

After the incident, Heim was brought to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment, according to WTSP. He suffered a head injury and puncture wounds to his right hand.

"I have 34 staples all around back here," he told the outlet, "[and] a mild depressed skull fracture."

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Because of swelling in his head, Heim was also left unable to open his left eye, NBC News reported. Still, doctors said he's expected to make a full recovery, and does not have any brain damage.

"If it would have got me anywhere else, it could have been a different story," Heim told the outlet. "The chance of me walking away from that is why it is a miracle."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said a licensed trapper will locate the wild animal and remove it from the water, WTSP reported. The incident is reportedly under investigation.