Alligator Bites Off Florida Woman's Arm

A witness said the swimmer ignored warnings about the gators in the river.

State wildlife officials captured and killed an alligator that attacked a woman in the Wekiva River in Central Florida on Saturday.

Witnesses said Rachael Lilienthal, 37, of Orlando, was swimming near some vegetation when an alligator bit her in the torso and arm and dragged her under the water several times, according to WOFL.

"We see the jaws just chomp down on her arm, and it starts spinning around, pulls her underwater, goes back up," Jakob Frick, who was canoeing with friends nearby, told the Orlando Sentinel. "She's just screaming."

Some nearby kayakers heard Lilenthal screaming and scrambled to help her. One person beat the animal with a paddle, while others brought her to shore. Lilenthal, who survived the attack but lost an arm below the elbow, was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center and underwent surgery. 

"You just saw some blood and some bone. There wasn't anything else there," Richard Ward, who was onshore, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Lilienthal told authorities she'd been swimming by herself in a busy area and had wanted to check out a more remote area of the river. Frick said he and his friends had warned her to get out of the water because they had already seen a few alligators.

Lilenthal said she felt her arm break as the the gator grabbed her and pulled her under. She said she lost count of how many times the alligator dragged her beneath the surface. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials dispatched crews to hunt the animal following the attack. They captured and euthanized the gator shortly after midnight on Sunday. Officials said it will be harvested for meat. 

State officials recorded 12 alligator attacks in Florida in 2013, but no attacks were fatal.

In July, a worker at a Florida ecotourism attraction was bitten in the thigh by an alligator while removing plants from a pond. 

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