Lake County, Florida — A 66-year-old grandpa wrestled a gator, and the reason behind the brave stunt may surprise you.
A grandpa who wrestles a gator sounds like a very sad sideshow attraction, or perhaps the result of several years of bayou living and heavy drinking. But this grandpa who wrestled a gator was neither trying to impress a bearded lady nor hopped up on moonshine and feeling fearless.
Instead, Steve Gustafson was out doing yardwork when trouble struck. And by trouble, we mean gator. And by struck, we mean needed wrestling.
Gustafson explains that the giant gator not only appeared nearby, but grabbed the grandpa’s 13-pound West Highland Terrier, Bounce. What happened next is the stuff of barroom legend, as the senior says adrenaline took over and he became the grandpa that wrestled a gator.
According to Gustafson, he didn’t have much time to think as the seven-foot long gator snatched little Bounce and dragged her into the water:
“For whatever reason, I don’t know, I just yelled, ‘you’re not going to get her!’ and just leaped on the gator … just like you do some silly belly flop in a pool … The only difference was I landed on top of a gator.”
While the grandpa did manage to wrestle the gator and save lucky Bounce, Patrick Delaney, an alligator biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, advises keeping tasty dogs away from shorelines in order to avoid gator attacks:
“One thing we stress at the Florida Fish and Wildlife is to be proactive. Not letting your dog that close to the shoreline would be the best thing you could do, and if you’re near the shore, keep your dog on a leash.”
Experts say the situation where the grandpa was forced to wrestle the gator is one of a rash of gator appearances due to warm September temperatures in the region.