POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) — A 6-year-old South Florida boy went back to school Monday after he survived an alligator attack in shallow water on Friday.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Joey Welch of Pompano Beach fell into the water at the edge of a boat ramp in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach.

“It pulled me in.  The alligator put his teeth on my shoe and pulled me in and swam to me and grabbed my arm,” Joey Welch tells CBS4 News. “It felt like I was getting poked, with the sharp end of a (bird’s) beak.”

His heart pounding, Joe Welch says he tried desperately to bang on the head of the gator to loosen his locked jaw.

“He didn’t flich. It was as if I was hitting a cinderblock,” remembers Joe Welch.

The boy’s dad and bystanders hit and kicked the animal until it released him.

“The guy was yelling at me to pull him up,” Joe said of the bystander. “And then he kicked him in the underbelly three or four times.”

Joey was treated at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale for cuts and bruises to his right arm, shoulder, and chest. He was treated with antibiotics and released.

His father had a bruised right hand from punching the alligator.

“We were told by Fish and Wildlife they have 24,000 pounds of pressure per square inch in their jaws,” Joe said. “So the fact he didn’t lose his arm or break a bone was truly a miracle of God.”

The federal agency said Monday that trappers captured and killed the 8-foot-long nuisance alligator, according to standard operation procedures.

Joey says he isn’t anxious to go back in the water and has been telling his Kindergarten classmates at Westminster Academy in Ft. Lauderdale about his gator encounter.

“They say I’m glad you’re alive!” said Joey.


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