An alligator bit off the hand of an Everglades airboat captain Tuesday in front of startled tourists, NBC station WBBH reported.
The victim, Wallace Weatherholt, 63, works for Captain Doug’s Everglades Tours in Everglades City, according to WBBH of Fort Myers.
The gator was captured and killed after the attack so the man’s hand could be retrieved from the animal’s stomach, Florida Fish and Wildlife officers said. The hand was sent to NCH Hospital in Naples, where the victim was taken after the attack, but it is unclear if doctors were able to reattach it.
Based on witness accounts, wildlife officials suspect Weatherholt may have illegally fed the 9-foot gator. Despite having his hand bit off, Weatherholt could be charged with second-degree misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail if found guilty. An investigation is ongoing and officers asked any additional witnesses to come forward.