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An alligator attack victim in South Carolina thought he was going to die. Here's how he escaped and survived.

Woman killed in South Carolina alligator attack
Woman killed in South Carolina alligator attack 00:20

Out of air and pinned by an alligator to the bottom of the Cooper River in South Carolina, Will Georgitis decided his only chance to survive might be to lose his arm. The alligator had fixed its jaws around Georgitis' arm and after he tried to escape by stabbing it with the screwdriver he uses to pry fossilized shark teeth off the riverbed, the gator shook the diver and dragged him 50 feet down, Georgitis told The Post and Courier.

"I knew I was going to die right then and there," he told the Charleston newspaper.

The alligator attacked Georgitis on April 15 as he surfaced from his dive, nearly out of air. He put up his right arm to defend his head. The gator latched onto it and Georgitis wrapped himself around the reptile in case it tried to twist the arm.

When the alligator pulled him down to the riverbed, his tank emptied with the gator's jaws crushing the arm. Georgitis figured he had one last chance.

An alligator is seen during the second round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 14, 2023, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
An alligator is seen during the second round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 14, 2023, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

"I put my feet up against him just launched back as hard as I possibly could and somehow ripped my arm out and not off," Georgitis told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Georgitis frantically swam to a friend's waiting boat and was taken to shore and the hospital. His arm was broken and he needed "a ton" of staples to close up the wounds from the alligator's teeth, he said.

There are probably several surgeries and six months of recovery ahead. His family has set up a page on GoFundMe to raise money to pay his medical bills.

"Every moment from here on out is a blessing to me," Georgitis told "Good Morning America."

Georgitis frequently dives looking for shark teeth and other fossils in the waters around Charleston. He has been to the spot where he was attacked at least 30 times and while he has seen alligators before, they usually are sunning or stay far away.

He was stunned this one made a beeline for him as soon as he surfaced.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is aware of the attack and is investigating.

South Carolina has about 100,000 alligators, which are a federally protected species and have strict rules about when they can be removed or killed, wildlife officials said.

Attacks are rare and usually take place on land when alligators attack pets or someone falls into a pond. South Carolina has had at least six fatal alligator attacks since 2016.

Last year, an alligator killed a 69-year-old woman in Hilton Head while she was walking her dog near a golf course lagoon. In 2022, an 88-year-old woman was killed by an alligator in the same county.

A 550-pound alligator attacked and tore off the arm of a snorkeler in 2007 in Lake Moultrie. He staggered ashore looking for help and five nurses at a picnic were able to give him first aid until paramedics arrived.

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