18-Year Old Recovering After Alligator Rips Off Arm

An 18-year-old Florida man is recovering today after his arm was severed Sunday by a large alligator when he went for a swim in Lake Okeechobee.

Casey Edwards says "I just felt a sensation like a huge pair of needle nose pliers clamp down on my back arm.  Immediately I knew it was an alligator."

Strong antibiotics, serious pain killers, and the knowledge that he is one lucky guy have Casey Edwards smiling.

The 18-year-old went for a late night swim at Nubbins Slew, an entrance to Lake Okeechobee, notorious for big alligators.

Casey says "I've been around alligators since I was a little boy, and I've never really paid any attention to them as far as like, if you jump in the water he's going to come get you."

So the teen didn't think twice about getting in the canal.

Edwards made it halfway across when an 11-footer chopped on his left arm.

Casey says "he started spinning with me and took me underwater and submerged me completely.  And I just remember going through my head this thing is huge and it's way more powerful than I am."

Edwards prayed as the alligator rolled him and he desperately fought back.

Casey says "He let go.  I wasn't actually aware that my arm had been severed.  And he turned and came back at me and grazed the side of me and gave me a pretty good cut on my stomach and knocked the wind out of me.  And that's when I took my middle finger and stuck it in his eyeball and gouged his eye as hard as I could."

The gator finally swam away and Edwards pulled himself to shore.

He'll undergo surgery on what's left of his left arm Tuesday.

As for future swimming plans, Casey says "I might go looking for some gators, but on an air boat this time with a gig or a shotgun or something like that.  I don't think I'm going to go out hand to hand."

Wildlife officials went to the scene of the attack and captured the 11-foot alligator.

They euthanized the animal and found Edwards' arm in its belly.

Unfortunately, doctors will not be able to reattach the arm.