A 61-year-old Florida man will still have a chance to see 62 (and, who knows, maybe even 63) after actually having the presence of mind to fend off an alligator trying to eat him by shoving his fingers into its eyes. Though it's a defense measure you hopefully never have to use, this is actually one of the ways they teach you to avoid what is undoubtedly a terrible way to die.
According to reports, Mark Johnson was walking his dog along a canal in Port St. Lucie last Sunday morning when he saw a gator start to come their way. This would be a very unfortunate time to get your foot stuck in mud, which is what ended up happening to Johnson. Johnson said he had sent his dog home immediately after spotting the gator, but after his foot got stuck he saw the reptile "lunge" right before chomping down on the back of his right knee.
He said he flipped around and then performed the defensive maneuver to prevent the lizard from performing one of those trademark death rolls.
"He starts clamping down pretty tight, and he started to pull, and the next thing I do ... I poke [the gator] through the eye," Johnson said to WPLG-TV.
He further states that this had the desired effect as the animal released his leg and swam away.
He limped his way home with blood coming out of his leg. His wife tended to the wound and wrapped it in a towel before transporting him to the hospital.
Johnson states that he needed 60 stitches as a result of a dozen puncture wounds, and that he needed five more stitches on his index finger because it got cut in the alligator's eye hole.
On Wednesday a trapper was sent out by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to find the guilty party. That hunt was apparently successful, with officials relaying that the gator was eight-and-a-half feet long and weighed close to 250 pounds.
"The trapper did tell me I was lucky," Johnson said. "He said the fingers to the eye socket trick doesn't always work."
As for the animal's current whereabouts, officials say it was sent to an alligator farm (which is not a euphemism for anything).
Johnson credits his ability to keep cool, even with 70+ teeth sinking into his leg at the time, as the reason for not currently being dead. He also put other gators on notice by saying that, when able to walk his dog again, he'll probably be carrying a weapon.