Clearwater, Florida - The man who was attacked by an alligator after running from a Pinellas County deputy spoke to 10 News from jail.
"[It was] one of those moments that you just don't think and you just react," said Bryan Zuniga from the Pinellas County jail Friday morning.
It all started early Thursday morning when a deputy pulled him over along 78th Avenue North in Pinellas Park. The 20-year-old said he was driving with a suspended license, but at first he didn't realize it was a deputy and thought he may be in danger.
According to Zuniga, he got out his car and took off. By the time he realized it was in fact law enforcement, he felt it was too late.
"I was too scared to stop, because I thought he was going to tackle me or taze me or something. He just got really mad, 'cause I ran. And I just, like, couldn't stop," said Zuniga.
The young man said he slipped under a fence and into a lake along Westchester Boulevard. He then swam across and rested, aware that deputies were searching for him.
That's when Zuniga said he spotted the gator.
"He just lunged at me. Opened his mouth and just grabbed me and we started twisting, wrestling. And I was just fighting for my life," said Zuniga.
He said the alligator eventually let him go and he was able to walk to a hospital with bite marks on his face, throat, and arm. Deputies later caught up with him there.
Zuniga, who has been arrested several times before, now feels he's still alive for a reason.
"God gave me one more chance, and to really realize to stop acting like a child and make adult decisions," said Zuniga.
Looking back, Zuniga realized he would've been better off dealing with the deputy. He said it's a lesson learned.
"I would've had no charges and I wouldn't be here right now. Or got bit by a gator."
Zuniga faces a number of charges, including Fleeing and Eluding an Officer and Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License.
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