A 6-year-old South Florida boy suffered minor injuries after being attacked by an alligator, federal wildlife officials said Monday.
The alligator attacked Friday afternoon when Joey Welch of Pompano Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale, fell into shallow water at the edge of a boat ramp in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
"I went in it and there was a splash. The alligator just swam into me and clamped my arm," the boy told WPLG-TV.
Joey's father and other bystanders punched and kicked the alligator until it released the child.
"I didn't want to play tug-of-war with the alligator and get his arm ripped off," Joseph Welch told WSVN-TV.
Joey was treated at a hospital for cuts and bruises to his right arm, shoulder and chest, wildlife officials said. His father had a bruised right hand from punching the alligator.
Doctors who treated the boy at Holy Cross Hospital were stunned his arm wasn't torn off and told WPLG-TV it was a miracle.
The federal agency said trappers licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission captured and killed the 8-foot-long alligator.
"We are extremely relieved the child made it out of this potentially deadly incident with only minor injuries," said Rolf Olson, an official at the wildlife refuge. "This really could have ended very badly. We thank the members of the public who saw this happening and selflessly rushed in to do the right thing."