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INSIDE ITS MOUTH: Florida man goes head-to-head with gator

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Jeffrey Heim was charged by the raging reptile while diving for shark teeth in a river south of Tampa

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Denette Wilford Jeffrey Heim, of Tampa, after being chomped by a gator in a Florida riverJeffrey Heim, of Tampa, after being chomped by a gator in a Florida river Photo by Facebook

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A Florida man is lucky to be alive after an alligator attacked him in a river.

Jeffrey Heim was searching for prehistoric shark teeth in the Myakka River — about 45 miles south of Tampa, where Heim resides — when the alligator charged.

“I thought it was a propeller, it hit me so hard,” Heim told NBC News.

”I realized I was inside its mouth and if the alligator hadn’t decided to let me go on its own, there was nothing I could have done to fight it.“

 <p>We apologize, but this video has failed to load.</p>    <iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ouWPL8s7nno?embed_config={'relatedChannels': [],'autonav':true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1&enablejsapi=1" width="480"> </iframe>  <p>Heim estimates the alligator was about nine feet long and likely a female protecting her eggs.</p> <p>Following the attack, Heim <a href="https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.heim.9/posts/10219434488107980" target="_blank" rel="noopener">posted on his Facebook page</a> that he was “doing all right, just really wanted a megalodon tooth; gonna be OK.”</p> <p>He added: “Thankful to be alive and am overwhelmed with love. Got bit in the back of my head while diving from a gator I never saw coming. I’ll get to everyone’s messages soon it’s just hard to type since he got my hand too.”</p> <h2>Article content</h2>  <p>According to <em>NBC News</em>, Heim received 34 stitches in his head and suffered a minor skull fracture and bite marks on one of his hands.</p> <p>He’s also unable to open his left eye due to the swelling in his head.</p> <p>Doctors, however, told Heim he doesn’t have any brain damage and is expected to make a full recovery.</p>     <p>We apologize, but this video has failed to load.</p>    <iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wg_92kykSB8?embed_config={'relatedChannels': [],'autonav':true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1&enablejsapi=1" width="480"> </iframe>  <p>“If it would have got me anywhere else, it could have been a different story,” said Heim.</p> <p>“The chance of me walking away from that is why it is a miracle.”</p> <p>While Heim admitted he won’t return to the river where the attack happened, he did say he’ll be back diving for teeth — a hobby of his — as soon as he’s able.</p> <p>“After this, I definitely have a new respect for wild animals in their habitat,” said Heim.</p> <p>“I don’t hold the gator at fault, and I hope that if they are able to find it, that they let it live and don’t kill it.”</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/local/tampa-man-attacked-by-gator-myakka-river/67-fd0235b4-639e-45bc-a852-c6f55e03758c" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told WTSP</a> a licensed trapper “is on scene, and trapping efforts are ongoing.”</p>

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