Man whose arm was ripped off in alligator fight spends four days in swamp before naked walk to civilisation

Eric Merda is now hopeful of embarking on a career as a comedian after recovering from the ordeal

Published

A man survived solely on a diet of flowers and marsh water for four days in the Florida swampland after having his arm ripped off by an alligator.

Eric Merda, 43, staggered naked towards civilisation after the incident which arose when he decided to go for a walk in the woods after being at work during the day.

He had left his phone in his pickup truck, making it impossible for him to seek help after the attack in Florida, US.

As the sun set, he became disorientated and felt a 15-minute swim across Lake Manatee would be a good shortcut back to his truck, despite the threat of alligators.

Mr Merda admitted the decision was "not the smartest a Florida boy can make" after he found the swim was longer than he anticipated, and he was not alone in the water.

Mr Merda soon found the lake was infested with alligators.
Mr Merda soon found the lake was infested with alligators.

“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 by the creature, who he said performed the "death roll".

He said: “It tried to drown me a few times. Three times we went under. I had an arm around the gator, the gator had its mouth on my arm, and I just kicked, kicked, kicked.”

When Mr Merda was able to rise above water for the third time, he says the alligator "took off" with his arm to complete the terrifying ordeal.

His arm was ripped off from shoulder to elbow.

The 43-year-old was forced to survive on a diet of flowers and marsh water.
The 43-year-old was forced to survive on a diet of flowers and marsh water.

Mr Merda was able to reach the shore, albeit naked after removing his clothes to reduce weight and bleeding heavily, and with no means of contacting anybody for help.

The 43-year-old feasted on flowers and drank marsh water he filtered with his hand in order to survive as he trudged towards civilisation, even having to return to the water at points to circumvent impassible points.

The stump beneath his shoulder eventually stopped bleeding, but began to attract flies.

“The pain was absolutely excruciating. I mean, I didn’t stop screaming. The whole three days, screaming,” he told the Washington Post.

“I had a bone sticking out of my arm, and I was using my nub to push brush aside to get through it. I had to. You’ve got to survive, man.”

Mr Merda eventually found a man after following an empty beer bottle on a dry dirt track up to a fence.

“I said 'a gator got my arm,' he said: "holy smokes man'!" Mr Merda recalls.

Doctors amputated what was left of his arm after he was flown to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where he was kept under observation for three weeks.

Mr Merda is now hopeful of embarking on a career as a speaker and a comedian.