Florida wildlife official: Gator bites off hand of Everglades City airboat captain

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. - An Everglades City airboat captain lost his hand Tuesday afternoon when an alligator bit it off, according to a state wildlife official.

The airboat captain was taken to a Naples hospital following the attack, said Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Wildlife officials tracked the alligator, retrieved the hand from its stomach and brought it to the hospital, she said.

The alligator was euthanized following the attack, which was reported around 3:45 p.m., said another spokesman, Jorge Pino.

Officials did not publicly identify the captain, but NBC-2 reported he was an employee of Captain Doug's Everglades Tours on State Road 29.

The TV station on Tuesday showed video footage of a Captain Doug's airboat captain taunting an alligator with food during a tour last week, although it was not clear if it was the same employee. Efforts to reach Captain Doug's for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Segelson, the wildlife official, said she did not know if anyone else was in the boat at the time of the bite and had no other details Tuesday night.

Tuesday's attack wasn't the first time a Collier County resident lost a hand or a limb to an alligator.

In July of 2010, an alligator bit off the left hand of Tim Delano, then 18, as he was playing in a swimming hole off Alligator Alley near Everglades Boulevard. Delano later was fitted with a hook and a prosthetic hand but told the Daily News later that year that he mostly avoids using it.

More recently, 90-year-old Margaret Webb lost her left leg below the knee in August after being attacked by an alligator while she stood in the front yard of her Copeland home.

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