Jordan Rivera, 23, was attacked by the large reptile when he fell into a pond while taking a bathroom break behind Banditos Bar in Port Charlotte on Sunday, according to a press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission obtained by PEOPLE.
The incident occurred at 1:40 a.m. local time, and Rivera was quickly taken to Gulf Coast Hospital in Fort Myers where his right arm was amputated just above the elbow, as confirmed by a spokesman for Charlotte County Fire and EMS to the Associated Press.
Rivera claims to have no memory of the attack itself, only recalling the moment right before and afterward. Waking up in the hospital, he maintains a surprisingly positive outlook despite his severe injury.
“I didn’t lose my life, I lost an arm,” Rivera told NBC affiliate WBBH in Fort Myers from his hospital bed. “It’s not the end of the world.”
He continued, “I didn’t truly understand those gators until I woke up in the hospital and realized, ‘Oh, a gator got your arm.’ They got my elbow. So, I don’t have an elbow.”
Rivera added, “I can still move my arm around and whatnot.” According to Rivera, a Florida native, he had stepped outside after refusing to wait in line for the bar’s bathroom and must have either tripped or stumbled into the water.
The next thing he remembers is waking up in confusion after the incident. He described the moment as a surprise when he saw his arm, saying, “I just woke up and I was just sitting here. And I looked over and I saw my arm the way it was, and I was like, ‘Whoa.'”
Following the attack, the alligator was captured and euthanized by trappers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, as reported by WBBH. A spokesperson for Charlotte County Fire & EMS provided details of the incident, stating, “The responding crew treated a male patient who had an above-the-elbow amputation of his upper right extremity.
Bystanders applied a tourniquet to the patient before we arrived. The patient was airlifted to Gulf Coast Medical Center in Ft. Myers.” Teresa Lessa, Rivera’s mother, expressed her relief that her son survived the “traumatic” experience, saying, “The best thing is that I have him. Yes, his arm is gone, very traumatic. But he’s here.”
Rivera described the incident as something “almost out of a movie” and expressed his gratitude towards those who helped him and ensured his safety.
“I call them angels that were there, that saved his life,” Lessa said. “The chance of someone being there with a tourniquet, to me, it’s a miracle that he’s here.”