Coral Springs man bitten by gator in Everglades shares ordeal

CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man is on the road to recovery, three days after he was bitten by an alligator while hunting for ducks in the Everglades.

His leg stitched up and bandaged after undergoing surgery, Krit Kruchiyan sat down with 7News in his Coral Springs home to share his account of the frightening attack that took place Friday, at around 2 p.m.

The 50-year-old and his friend, Roberto Gautier, were wading in the water near the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area, in Palm Beach County, when he brushed up against something he initially thought was a log.

Within seconds, however, he knew it was something more serious. According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, it was an 8- to 10-foot alligator.

“I knew it was an alligator ’cause he came up,” he said. “You know, you can’t react fast enough. Even if I had a pistol in my hand, I couldn’t have shot that alligator.”

The large reptile lunged at Kruchiyan and sank its teeth into his left thigh. “His reaction was, ‘Oh, my God, it bit me,'” Gautier told 7News on Friday.

“My thought was, ‘Get out to survive, just back up,'” said Kruchiyan.

But the alligator was not finished. “As I was going backwards, I saw the alligator coming towards me again,” said Kruchiyan.

“I was behind him. When I saw him, I saw the alligator’s mouth,” said Gautier.

That is when the victim’s friend intervened. “Roberto, my hunting partner, shoved my kayak in between the alligator and myself,” said Kruchiyan. “I think, if he hadn’t done that, the alligator would have bitten me again.”

Meanwhile, off-duty Hollywood Firefighters Michael Donadio and Paul Burton had heard the commotion. “We heard a loud scream from behind us, thrashing around, and it kind of went silent,” said Donadio.

Burton said Kruchiyan had a nasty gash on his leg. “On his upper thigh, it was bleeding pretty bad, so I ended up cutting the rest of his waders off,” he said. “I guess his buddy had started it, and I got his waders off and used his belt on the waders to tie up the tourniquet.”

The first responders then drove Kruchiyan to Mile Marker 38 on U.S. 27, where EMTs met them. From there, the injured hunter was airlifted to Broward Health Medical Center, where he underwent surgery to reattach his muscle. He was released on Sunday.

Kruchiyan said he is very lucky to be alive. Had it not been for Gautier, Donadio and Burton, he said, it could have ended much differently. “You can’t thank a guy enough to put themselves in harm’s way to save a friend’s life,” he said, “and Paul, the off-duty fireman, he didn’t know me; we communicate through texts and one phone call, and I intend to meet up with him to thank him in person again.”

Kruchiyan said his doctor told him he should make a full recovery in about a month.

As much as he likes hunting, he said he’s going to stick to fishing from now on.

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