VIDEO: Man attacked by 8-foot gator as horrified crowd watches

1:44 PM, May 10, 2010   |    comments
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  • FWC took the 8-foot long alligator into state custody Sunday night.
  • Alligator handler Jeffery Quattrocchi performs at fairs across the country.
  • Jeffery Quattrocchi says he's suffered alligator bites at least 13 times in the past.

UPDATE: Gator handler talks about attack

New Port Richey, Florida -- An alligator show at the annual Cotee River Seafood Festival in Pasco County went terribly wrong Sunday afternoon, when the show's star suffered a severe bite wound from an eight-foot alligator.

Photo Gallery: Pictures of the alligator attack

Event organizers say the attack happened in front of a crowd during the second of three shows Sunday put on by the "Swampmaster" Jeffrey Quattrocchi. Home video shot by a person in the crowd shows the 45-year-old handler walking in circles around the gator before it twirled around and latched onto his arm.

"Everyone thought it was part of the show, but when people realized it was real blood, that's when it got real serious," said Jason Cunningham, a volunteer with the Florida Guard Association who provided first aid immediately after the attack.

On the video tape, you can hear Quattrocchi repeatedly scream as he struggles to free his arm from the gator's powerful jaw. Witnesses say the gator twisted in the water for several seconds before Quattrocchi finally broke free and leaped out of the tank to safety.

New Port Richey Police report the handler was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg where he underwent surgery Sunday night.

Two alligators used in the show were taken into custody by a wildlife trapper working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A spokesman for the agency says the alligators will be returned to the handler when he is released from the hospital.  Quattrocchi writes on his MySpace page he's suffered alligator bites at least 13 times in the past.

(Check out video of a previous close call)

He most recently recovered from a near deadly staph infection and returned to his shows after losing nearly 35 pounds in the hospital.

Police say Quattrocchi told them, this was his worst encounter yet with a gator.  He is in fair condition at Bayfront Medical Center.

A friend of Quattrocchi tells 10 Connects he should be able to return to handling alligators once he recovers.

Poll: Should wild animals be held in captivity? 

Beau Zimmer, 10 Connects

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