Over the weekend, Ryanne Gwaltney was swimming with her grandfather, Clifford Gregg, in Lost Lake. At one point, just after the two got out of the water to grab a snack, they spotted an alligator in lake. Gregg told WCTV he waited roughly 30 minutes before he and his granddaughter re-entered the water.
But moments later, Ryanne was attacked.
"I waded out a little bit further, looking around, keeping my eyes open for the alligator. I had stepped 10 or 15 feet away from her when she screamed," Gregg, recalling the incident, told the news station.
"It was so shocking that it came around behind us the way that it did,” he added.
Gregg said he “pounded the water with [his] hands” to get the gator away from the young girl before he “scooped her up.”
The gator bit Ryanne’s leg. She later received 11 stitches. Gregg told WCTV he thinks the float she wore on her leg prevented the gator from further injuring the girl.
“Since it happened, I’ve been replaying all the scenes in my head and how else it may have gone,” he said.
The gator was later trapped and removed from the lake by officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), per WCTV.
The FWC later took to Facebook with tips to “reduce the chances of a conflict with an alligator." Keeping a safe distance, never feeding these reptiles and swimming only in “designated areas during daylight hours,” among other precautionary steps, were recommended.