Stoney Creek man helps Florida senior attacked by alligator

Scott Pearson found out this week that Florida retirement living isn’t all sunshine and shuffleboard — you also have to watch out for alligator attacks.
A Stoney Creek man says was shocked on Monday when he saw an alligator lunge out of a pond at a resident of a retirement community in Florida. (WFLA/NBC)

Scott Pearson found out this week that Florida retirement living isn't all sunshine and shuffleboard — you also have to watch out for alligator attacks.

Pearson and his wife Andrea helped save a Florida man from an alligator at the Cypress Lakes Retirement Community in Lakeland near Tampa, on Monday.

"I'm still a little freaked out," Pearson told CBC News. "We were both pretty shaken up."

The pair was out for a walk while visiting his parents and strolling near a pond when they noticed a flock of birds flying off into the distance.

George Ihle, 85, survived the attack and was listed in stable condition. (WFLA/NBC)

That's when Pearson, an Ottawa native who now lives in Stoney Creek, looked across the water and saw an almost three-and-a-half metre long alligator lunge at a man from the shoreline.

"Both of us were just stunned," he said. "I thought, 'are we really seeing this?'"

Neither of them had a cellphone at the time, so they ran to a nearby roadway to flag down help. Pearson says he spotted a man in a truck and yelled at him to stop.

"I said, 'A gators got him, a gators got him!" he said.

Scott Pearson says he and his wife Andrea were shocked when they saw the alligator. (Scott Pearson)

By the time all three people got back to the scene, the man had managed to get free from the alligator's jaws and had gotten to a small, wooded area nearby, Pearson said.

The animal, meanwhile, was swimming around in the water with the man's shoe in his mouth, he said.

The two men then set about helping the senior. Pearson pulled off his shirt and the other man used it to wrap up the injured man's foot, as he was bleeding heavily.

"My shirt was bright red within like a minute," Pearson said.

The attack happened near this small pond. (WFLA/NBC)

Not long after that, emergency crews arrived on the scene and loaded the injured man onto a stretcher.

According to the NBC station in Lakeland, the 85-year-old victim, George Ihle, survived the attack and was last listed in stable condition on Tuesday.

A representative from the Polk County Sheriff's Office said she believed the animal had been put down.

Pearson says it was an experience he won't soon forget — especially any time he's walking near a body of water down south.

"I'll be watching a little more closely now," he said.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Hamilton home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.