Fredric Iman was bathing in a retention pond in Port Charlotte, something he says he does regularly because he is homeless.
He said he checked the pond for alligators before he stepped in and didn’t see the gator until it attacked him from behind.
“I turned around and I know I punched it in the eye,” he told NBC2. “I tried to get it away and it tried to pull me in.”
Iman fought the nine-foot-long reptile off and was able to walk himself to a nearby surgery centre, where staff called 911.
“I was kind of in agony,” he said. “You’re having a nice day one minute and the next minute you’re a bloody mess.”
He was airlifted to Lee Memorial hospital where he was treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. He is now listed as being in fair condition.
Although Iman told the hospital he wouldn’t be able to pay his bill, Lee Memorial will continue to treat him.
The senior, who describes himself as a self-taught physical health arts professional, said he plans to go back to the streets once he’s discharged.
“It’s just what’s happened and I gotta deal with it. I gotta get back onto the street, missing a finger and two toes. You know, that’s not real pleasant,” he said.
According to Charlotte County Fire & EMS authorities, the alligator was captured and later euthanized.
Lisa Posten, who lives near the pond, told ABC7 that she was saddened by the incident because she looked forward to spotting the alligator, whom she nicknamed Charlie.
“People that live in Florida, they know not to go in these waters. This is where these gators live,” she said.