The day turned irreversibly sour for airboat Captain Wallace Weatherholt on Tuesday when an alligator bit off his hand during a tour.
Weatherholt, 63, works for Captain Doug’s Everglades Tours in Everglades City, Florida. While on a tour leading six people around the everglades, Weatherholt was hanging a fish off the side of the boat, according to witness Judy Chroniak-Hatt.
A nine-foot gator jumped up to grab the fish. Apparently, it jumped up so high a second time that its two front feet were inside the boat. Chroniak-Hatt said she thought the gator would tip the boat. On board were two other women and two young children.
As the guide was trying to get the gator to come out a third time by patting the water, the alligator bit off his hand before Weatherholt had a chance to pull it away. Though he was missing a hand, Weatherholt reportedly drove himself back to the dock and waited calmly for help to arrive.
Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) crews caught and killed the alligator and retrieved Weatherholt’s hand. Weatherholt, along with his dismembered hand, were taken to Naples Community Hospital but he was told the hand was not able to be reattached.
A criminal investigation is pending according to FWC. Feeding alligators is a second degree misdemeanor.
Slider image © iStockPhoto.com/Michael Phillips, featured image from Allan Hack, aehack on flickr