Bicycle-riding Florida man bitten by alligator after falling into water

STUART, Fla. — A Florida man riding his bicycle at a park was seriously injured Monday when he fell into the water and was attacked by a female alligator, authorities said.

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According to officials, Robert Bassett, of Palm City, was riding through Halpatiokee Regional Park, at around 11 a.m. EDT when he lost control of his bicycle, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Bassett was riding over a wooden bridge on a trail and fell into a small body of water located about 6 feet down an embankment, reported.

According to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, the alligator, which measured nearly 9 feet long, grabbed Bassett and injured him.

Halpatiokee is a Seminole Indian word meaning “alligator water,” according to Martin County’s website.

Scott Lorraine, of the Airborne Mountain Bike Club of the Treasure Coast, told WPTV that Bassett is an experienced rider who happened to land on top of the alligator.

“But he slid out and the water is literally a couple of feet away and he went right into the water, and just as bad luck would be, the gator was right there,” Lorraine told the television station.

The startled reptile reacted by biting Bassett’s right rear thigh and torso, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Charles Shannon, of Palm City, told WPEC he was walking the trail with his dog when saw Bassett trying to escape.

“He (Bassett) was saying, ‘Help me get out of the water’,” Shannon told the television station. “He was pretty far down, so I was able to get down there with the help of this young man that (held) me. I was able to drag him out of the water.”

Shannon said he grabbed his dog leash and tied it around Bassett’s leg to help stop the bleeding.

“I hope he’s all right, and just to be able to get him out of the water and tie it off, I think that helped,” Shannon told WPTV.

The alligator weighed an estimated 170 pounds and was captured Monday by trapper John Davidson, reported. Davidson told the website he was able to quickly capture the alligator, who may have been protecting a nest.

“You got to be careful when you’re around the water, especially this time of year” Davidson, a retired firefighter who has been a trapper for about 10 years, told “The females are sitting on nests and are particularly aggressive.”

Davidson said the alligator was being located to Fort Drum, an area about 60 miles northwest of Stuart.

Lorraine told WPEC that he spoke with Bassett, who was taken to an area hospital.

“He said it took him down, three spins he admits it too, he said ‘I’m dead,’ because the thing had him, grabbed him right by the leg,” Lorraine told the television station. “You can see how big the gator is.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident, the Sun-Sentinel reported.