Massive alligator attacks Florida man fishing in golf course pond: 'Took his hand off'

One man is in the hospital following a gator attack that happened Sunday afternoon. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) estimates the gator's length to be approximately 9 feet.

Reports say the man was fishing in a pond inside the Pennbrooke Fairways neighborhood in Leesburg when the gator attacked him, biting off his hand. Ron Priest, who spoke exclusively to FOX 35’s Kelsie Cairns, saw the whole thing play out in his backyard. 

"While the guy was on the ground, the gator got the guy in the hand, and the two rolled," he said. 

Video: Alligator chases golf cart in Florida

His wife was one of two people who called 911. Lake County Fire Rescue released those calls, which said in part:  

Call #1

Caller: "There is a gator attacking a man in my backyard!"

Dispatcher: "Yes, ma'am."

Caller: "Some people now have stopped in their golf carts!"

Call #2

Dispatcher: Is this regarding a gator attack?" 

Caller: "Yes, he took his hand off." 

Dispatcher: "Oh no, okay." 

Caller: "Hand is gone!"

Priest says the fisherman was reeling in a fish when the animal snapped open its jaws and chomped down on the man’s hand. 


"The gator was after [the] fish, and what we don't know is if the guy was trying to unhook the fish," he said. 


He says he saw the gator and then ran back into the water, ditching the fish and fisherman. Minutes later, help arrived at the scene. A helicopter airlifted the man to the hospital in Orlando. 

As for the victim’s dismembered hand, Priest said, "It's my understanding that [FWC] can't dispose of a human part. It has to be sent to a medical facility, and so, in the odd chance that it could have been re-attached, they drove it to Orlando."

FWC had no option but to shoot what it calls the nuisance gator, as this is the protocol for gators that attack humans. FOX 35 News is working to confirm the man’s condition. 

The FWC emphasizes the importance of caution around alligators, advising the public to back up if encountering one and to provide them with ample space. Concerned individuals are encouraged to contact 866-FWC-GATOR to report any sightings or issues related to alligators in the area.