Disney Alligator Tragedy : Man Claims It Was Not a First, Says He Survived An Attack When he was Eight

By Katherine Pine, Parent Herald June 17, 05:00 am

A man has come forward claiming that he was also nabbed by an alligator while visiting the Orlando, Florida Disney resort when he was eight refuting the statements of the theme park that the latest incident is the first of its kind.

Daily News reported that the man, named Paul Santamaria has the photos and the scars to prove the attack. He said that he crouched near a pond to feed the ducks when suddenly, a seven and a half foot long female alligator grabbed him. The alligator reportedly chomped down on his leg and tried to pull him underwater.

The man, now 38 years old, said that he decided to come forward with his near-death experience after local sheriff claimed to the media that the death of the toddler, identified as Lane Graves from Nebraska, was the first alligator attack in Disney's 45 years in Orlando Florida.

The New Hampshire man continued to reveal that he was with his brother, his sister, and another child. He also said that he did not scream at first as he was shocked but when he realized what was going on, he called for help and his sister, Carolyn, then 12, and brother Joseph, then 10, rushed to help him.

His sister reportedly grabbed him under his arms and pulled against the alligator. His brother was picking up rocks and sticks to throw at the alligator. He also remembered that he started to kick the alligator with his free leg in an attempt to break free. Eventually, the gator opened its mouth and let go of his leg.

Santamaria recalled that he spent around a week in the hospital. People who had costumes of Mickey Mouse and Snow White on also came to visit him. The parents of Santamaria filed a federal lawsuit against Disney in January 1988 but was terminated in September of the same year. Santamaria did not comment on whether or not they received a financial settlement thus the dropping of the lawsuit.

The man said that his heart broke for the parents of Graves. Graves was dragged into the water at around 9 P.M. His father wrestled with the alligator but could not let the animal let go of his child. Divers were able to recover the body of Graves a day after at around 3:30 P.M. His body was said to be intact.

By then, there were signs in the area saying that guests should not play or swim near the man-made lake but no signs were put up saying there are alligators in the Orlando, Florida Disney resort.

Experts have released tips on how to act when there is an alligator attack. People should put up a fight with the animal and make as much noise as possible.

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