Published: Aug 30, 2010 11:38 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 30, 2010 8:38 PM EDT

TRENTON, Fla. (AP) - A state wildlife officer was seriously injured after he fell off his boat while patrolling a north Florida river.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that 34-year-old Billy Giles was alone on the 16-foot boat on the Santa Fe River Saturday evening. Authorities say he let go of the steering wheel to keep his hat from blowing off his head, and the boat jerked to the right, throwing Giles overboard.

FWC says the boat then circled around back toward Giles, who was pulled under and hit by the propeller. The boat grounded itself, and Giles walked to a nearby boat ramp for help.

Giles was taken to a Gainesville hospital, where he underwent surgery Sunday.

Giles has been with the FWC since 2001.