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This Florida man’s story is not what you think

Eric Merda survived in the brutal Florida swamplands for three days after an alligator ripped off his arm

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An alligator is silhouetted as it looks for food in the shallow water at the Canaveral National Seashore.

An alligator is silhouetted as it looks for food in the shallow water at the Canaveral National Seashore Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Titusville, Fla.

Chris O’Meara, Associated Press

Instead of making the news for committing some outrageous crime, this Florida man is making the news for an inspirational story of survival.

Eric Merda, a 43-year-old man from Florida, was spending time in Manatee Fish Camp in Myakka City, Florida, when he was attacked by an alligator, The Washington Post reported.

What happened when an alligator ripped off the Florida man’s arm?

He got lost in the swampland and tried to cross the water to get to a better area. But instead of finding safety on the other side, he got lost in the water and ended up swimming for three hours in the lake trying to figure out how to get back to his van, per USA Today.

While swimming, he made eye contact with a scaly alligator eye and started panicking. The “nearly 7-foot alligator grabbed hold of his forearm and would not let go,” according to USA Today.

The gator began to twist violently, which scientists call a “death roll,” and the action “ripped off Merda’s right arm between the shoulder and elbow,” per The Washington Post.

After the violent attack, the alligator left, and Merda escaped to shore.

Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of Merda’s woes. He spent the next three days trying to survive the brutal landscape that is the Florida swampland.

“I can’t figure out why I wouldn’t give up. I’m not a quitter. I couldn’t do it,” Merda told USA Today.

How did the Florida man survive for 3 days after alligator attack?

He spent a lot of time sleeping, consuming flowers and scooping water from the marsh to drink. While he was swimming, he had taken off his clothes to prevent himself from being weighed down, per USA Today.

So there he was: naked, critically wounded, exhausted, hungry and in desperate need of rescue.

After wandering for more than 72 hours, he finally spotted a man about 20 feet away. He stayed with Merda “until paramedics arrived in a helicopter about 20 minutes later and flew him to a hospital,” The Washington Post reported.

Two months later, Merda is still getting used to life without most of his right arm. He quit his job installing sprinkler systems and hopes to build on the experience to inspire others as a motivational speaker and comedian. He has a gig set up next month, according to The Washington Post.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife agency reported that there have been 22 alligator bites in 2022 compared to “21 bite incidents in 2021,” per Fox News.