MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A duck hunter in his 50’s is recovering in the hospital after being bit by an alligator in the Everglades during a duck hunting trip.
Investigators say the man’s injury is not life threatening.
Paramedics rushed the duck hunter to Broward Health Medical Center on Friday afternoon. His friend and hunting partner, Roberto Gautier, said his pal, Krit Krutchaiyan, should make a full recovery.
“He’s fine,” said Gautier. “He’s in good spirits.”
Gautier said the pair was getting ready for a duck hunt in the Everglades. He said they were preparing to get in their kayaks when the gator struck.
“We were gonna do an afternoon hunt and we loaded our stuff in the kayaks and got in the water in hip-depth of water and he must have startled the alligator and he bit him,” Gautier said. “His reaction was, ‘Oh my God!’ It bit me.'”
Gautier said he immediately tried to help his friend.
“I saw the alligator’s mouth and I tried to push the kayak between him and the alligator,” Gautier said. “We struggled a little bit to get composure, put him on the kayak and get out of the water.”
Gautier said Krutchaiyan did not lose a lot of blood but there was great concern for his health. The Broward Sheriff’s Office says the hunter told investigators that he saw a log in the water and went to kick it, only it wasn’t a log.
“That alligator latched onto his left thigh, started to roll,” said Mike Jachles, BSO Spokesperson. “Fortunately, the alligator let go.”
We’re told that an off-duty firefighter in the area heard the cries for help and took the victim to Alligator Alley where a Broward Sheriff’s Office rescue chopper raced to get the hunter to safety. Gautier said the pair has been hunting migratory ducks for years in the Everglades near the Broward/Palm Beach County line.
He said they are always aware that they are in the alligator’s habitat but they never expected to get this close to one.
“It’s just a shock because we’ve been doing it for so many years, we’ve never had an accident,” Gautier said. “To see it happen in front of you, it’s startling.”
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission controls the area in the Glades where this happened — an area where they collect storm water runoff and allow people to duck hunt.
FWC officials tell us that even though alligator bites are rare there was another bite last Sunday. In that incident, a gator bit the stock of a juvenile’s gun while he was duck hunting. We’re told that teen suffered only a minor injury to his thumb.