July 8 (UPI) — A Florida man diving for golf balls in a golf course pond was attacked by an alligator.
Scott Lahodik, 51, was hired by the Rotonda Golf and Country Club in Rotonda, Fla. to remove all the golf balls from the course’s ponds. But while he was doing his job, an alligator swam up to him and bit his arm.
“Alligator grabbed his arm, started doing the death roll, and he was able to punch it in the face, and it let go,” said daughter Kaelin Lahodik. “He drove to the clubhouse at the golf course, where they called 911.”
Lahodik was airlifted to a hospital and remains in the intensive care unit where he underwent surgery.
“We are not out of the woods yet, he has a high risk of infection, will need more surgeries in coming days,” his wife, Maritza, said on Facebook.
“He’s alive against the odds and God gave him the strength of dragging himself out of a lake, over a bank and driving to the golf shop for help, even though he was in full scuba gear. My God is awesome!” she wrote.
Lahodik, the owner of Golf Balls International in Jacksonville, Fla., is a professional diver who gets hired by various golf courses to remove balls from the bottom of lakes and ponds — a job that he has done for 30 years. But in alligator-filled Florida, it can be dangerous.
“He shouldn’t be in the water. That’s for the gators,” golfer Jim Healy said. “We hit the golf balls in there. The gators eat them.”
“This is a pretty active season right now,” said Florida Fish & Wildlife officer Michael Frantz. “Whenever it gets hot like this, the alligators get more active. I wouldn’t say it’s rare, but it doesn’t happen a lot either. Once a year probably we have an incident in this area.”
Trapper Bill Conrad said the alligator was more than 10 feet long and weighed more than 500 pounds.
“The guy is lucky he got away from him,” Conrad said.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help pay for Lahodik’s medical bills.
The alligator was captured and euthanized.