The Daily Telegraph

Man loses arm to alligator and survives days in swamp

- By Jamie Johnson

A MAN whose arm was ripped off by an alligator survived for four days in the Florida swampland by eating flowers and drinking marsh water.

Eric Merda, 43, had been at work shutting down a sprinkler system in Parrish and decided to go for a walk in the woods at the end of the day, leaving his phone in his pickup truck.

As the sun set, he became disoriente­d in the thick brush, but thought that, despite the threat of alligators, a quick 15-minute swim across Lake Manatee would serve as a shortcut to his vehicle. Describing it as “not the smartest decision a Florida boy can make,” Mr Merda found he was not alone in the water.

By the time he saw the alligator, he had already kicked off his work boots, shorts and shirt, which were weighing him down. “She grabbed my forearm from the outside and snapped it back,” Mr Merda told The Washington Post. He tried to fight back, but was forced underwater. “Three times we went under.”

When Mr Merda made it back to the surface a third time, “that’s when the gator did the death roll and took off with my arm,” he said. It was ripped off between his shoulder and elbow.

Feeding on flowers and drinking marsh water, he staggered slowly over the following three days. The stump just below his right shoulder stopped bleeding, but was now attracting flies.

Eventually, he found a man standing by a truck at the end of a dry dirt track.

Mr Merda was flown to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where doctors amputated what was left of his arm.

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