Following the tragic alligator attack that led to 2-year-old Lane Grave’s death at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney officials were quick to point out that such an attack had never happened in the theme park’s storied history.
One man came forward to contest this, claiming that a similar incident happened to him almost 30 years ago, although he thankfully survived.
Paul Santamaria, now 38 years old, told the New York Daily News that when he was an eight-year-old child, he experienced something incredibly comparable—while he was playing around a Disney World campground, a female alligator “sprang from a small pond, chomped down on his leg and tried to wrestle him into the water.”
“The alligator was submerged underwater where I couldn't see it, and when I squatted down to get the ducks to eat from my hands, the alligator came out, knocked me over, turned herself around and grabbed my leg. She started to shake her head pretty hard and tried to drag me back into the water," he recalled.
He called for his siblings; his sister grabbed him under his arms and attempted to pull him away, while his brother threw rocks at the alligator. Eventually, they won the tug of war—the gator opened its mouth and let his leg go free.
Santamaria spent some time in the hospital with deep gashes in his leg, but was eventually able to go home.
He voiced his disapproval with Disney’s handling of the situation, calling it “disheartening” that officials did not allude to the fact that this sort of attack occurred before.
He also believes Disney should do a more thorough job of warning its guests of the danger of alligators.
“It’s scary that alligators are there. It's an associated danger with that area. People from Florida know it's there, but people from another place don't know…Maybe they should give verbal warnings when people check in. I don't have a crystal ball,” he expressed.
If this is indeed a repeated occurrence, giving guests more warning is certainly something Disney should seriously consider—anything to prevent such an attack from ever happening again.
Banner Image Credit: Pixabay, Marafi