Boy attacked by alligator in St. Cloud lake describes ordeal



ORLANDO, Fla. - A young boy who was attacked by an alligator in an Osceola County lake described his ordeal Friday afternoon.

James Barney said he was hot as he rode along St. Cloud's Lakefront Park Thursday afternoon so he jumped off his bike and into the lake. That's when he was attacked by a 9-foot alligator.

The alligator bit 9-year-old James three times, leaving several wounds on his body. Barney was taken by helicopter to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando in good condition.

James, speaking from a hospital bed, he said the attack was a surprise.

"At first I thought someone was playing with me and I didn't know what happened. I reached down, and felt its jaw and teeth. I didn't know what to do. (I) hit it, it was letting go a little. I had enough strength left to pry its jaw open. It was slipping. That's how I got the scratches," James said.

James' doctors said just hours after escaping the gator, the young boy wasn't complaining of any pain.

"I got to Arnold Palmer real fast. Everyone here said I was brave, I was nice. They said, 'Hey, what's this?' and they pulled out a tooth, and showed it to me and  I said, 'I want to put it on a necklace so then I could tell all my friends,'" James said.

James' father was with him at the hospital and said he is grateful that his son survived the attack.

A 911 caller described the scene following the attack.

"We heard him screaming, and then we didn't know what happened, so we decided to go over there and there was a big alligator actually 5 feet away from him. He was crawling up the shore screaming, and crying with gator bites all over his back and scratches," the caller said.

The swimming portion of the lake has been closed to swimmers while trappers work to catch the alligator. James jumped into the water in an area where swimming isn't allowed.

Trappers said they spotted the gator, which they said appears to be 400-500 pounds, early Friday morning but weren't able to catch it.
One woman told Channel 9 that there are plenty of gators in the large lake.

"I live 2 miles down the road right on the lake, and we have big gators in our yard every day," said witness Alicia Walker.