A Florida man is sharing his story after he was attacked by an alligator this summer, losing his arm as a result of the incident.
Eric Merda told NBC affiliate WFLA-TV he was swimming in Lake Manatee, located just south of Tampa in Manatee County, on July 17 when the nearly seven-foot reptile tore off the 43-year-old’s right arm. He was stranded for three days in the swamp.
“With a bone poking out a lot of pain the whole three days I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” he recalled while waiting for help to arrive.
Merda was able to find his way out and was airlifted to an area hospital, where doctors amputated what was left of the arm.
“There’s no way that this is real,” he said. “My arm is gone. I don’t have an arm anymore. There’s no way. I have to be dreaming or something.”
Merda said he believes he was given a second chance at live to become a motivational speaker, sharing his story of survival.
“I came out the swamp, naked, with one arm,” he said. “I was reborn for a reason and I believe that is to motivate people.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said a six-foot gator and nine-foot gator were removed from the lake one day after Merda was found.