I hid in a swamp for 3 days after an alligator bit my arm OFF, I felt like giving up – I thought I was dead for sure | The Sun

A MAN who hid in a swamp for three days after an alligator bit his arm off has told how he thought he was dead.

Eric Merda, 43, wrestled with the reptile and was dragged underwater three times before it suddenly vanished again.

It had gone away with his arm, up to just above the elbow, in its jaws in July.

Eric, who was visiting Lake Manatee Fish Camp in Myakka City, Florida, desperately tried to escape by swimming back to where he'd entered the water.

But he soon realised he had got lost in the huge lake and was very far from wherever he entered and his days-long survival mission began.

Eric admitted he was not in a fit state of mind when he got in the water, and officers found cannabis and a bottle of whisky in his van after the ordeal.


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He had been in the water for several hours before he was attacked. He had also stripped off because his clothes clothes were weighing him down.

He then saw the eye of an alligator which was moving silently alongside him on his right. Before he could do anything his jaws clamped down on his arm and snapped his elbow.

He told The Daily Mail: "Everything turned black for half a second. It was like lightning striking. I thought I was dead for sure.

But he managed to wrap his other arm around the alligator and kicked as it tried to pull him under. When it suddenly left, he desperately tried to find a way out.

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He said: "I was scared to death. All I was thinking was that it was coming back for me.

"Every time I felt my feet touch colder water, I would just lose it because it meant this was deeper water where the alligator might be.

"I remember thinking 'There's no way that this is real. My arm is gone. I don't have an arm anymore! I have to be dreaming or something'."

He desperately tried to find the shore but it was hours until he made it to an area of thick swamp grass where he could sleep for a night.

He then climbed a tree to try get some higher ground and spend hours waving at any plane overhead.

He said: "It would have been really easy to just lie there and die."

But he kept working his way around the edge of the swamp trying to find where he entered from with his raw, red stump.


It had stopped bleeding by flies were clustered around it and red ants were attacking his back.

And at times he saw an alligator's head rise above the surface of the water before sinking again. He said: "I felt it was waiting for me."

He slept on a small slab on concrete on the water's edge the second night. And the next day he carried on trying to get out of the swamp before he realised he was going in circles.

He estimated he had covered just 100 yards by the fourth day. He said: "It was really hard. I was buck naked, beat up and cut up.

"There were a lot of times I couldn’t keep going . . . but I just kept pushing and pushing."

He eventually found an empty beer bottle that meant he was near civilisation, and soon enough he saw his van and a man parked nearby.

Within half an hour emergency services arrived. He spent three weeks in a local hospital and had to have more of his arm amputated from where it became infected.

An alligator trapper later caught two specimens in the lake, six and nine feet long.

Merda, who is now considering a career as a motivational speaker, said: "Fear is a good thing."

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