911 call of St. Cloud boy bitten by gator released

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ST. CLOUD, Fla. - WFTV obtained a 911 call made when a 9-year-old boy was bitten by an alligator while swimming in a restricted area of an Osceola County lake.

Caller: "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 five feet away from him. He was crawling up the shore screaming and crying with gator bites all over his back and scratches."

James Barney was flown to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando Thursday and is in good condition, officials said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they still trying to capture the alligator Friday at the St. Cloud Lakefront Park.

In a recent Facebook post Barney's father wrote, "Today I was told to count my blessings, material and nonmaterial. Little did I know that I could I lost one of them very easily my son put up a good fight and beat a nine-foot alligator."

According to a representative with the St. Cloud Police Department, the boy was riding his bike and stopped to jump into the lake in a restricted area.

"Probably a 400- to 500-pound gator," said gator trapper Joseph Elsebough.

Police said the boy suffered three superficial bites from the alligator.

“Luckily they were all superficial bites,” said Sandra Ramirez, a spokesperson for the St. Cloud Police Department.

Witnesses told wildlife officials the gator appeared to be about 9 feet in length.

City officials have closed the lake to swimming while the search for the gator continues.

"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.

"Usually they go away from you. This one kept getting closer," said witness Chris Williams.

The trapper said he is suspicious about what might have provoked the attack.

"The fact that he gave so many casts on him tells me that he's probably been fed," Elsebough said. "Once somebody feeds a gator, they associate people with food."

At about 7:30 p.m., after casting multiple lines, trappers briefly hooked the animal, but the line snapped and the alligator got away.