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SWFL teen hangs tough after gator attack in Charlotte County

We spoke to 14-year old Zachary Mills Monday, nearly a week after he was attacked by an alligator at a lake, commonly known as “Crystal Lake,” off Thrush Drive Charlotte County.

Sunday, Zach was released from the hospital after his gator encounter. He recalls the moment leading up to the attack. Right after the attack, fear of leg amputation was on Zach’s mind, as his mother dialed 911.

“I went underwater and I was just like, ‘Oh, why am I under?’” Zach told WINK News. “Then, I turned around to see my leg because it was hurting … and I see, and I saw him, and I saw his eyes.”

Zach’s right leg was severely injured during the alligator attack, dislocating his knee and suffering wounds to his calf. After six days at the hospital, Zach is at home recovering.

An image of Zachary Mills’ leg after being stabilized and treated at the hospital following his encounter with an alligator. Credit: Stacey Mills.

But Zach is hanging tough.

“It doesn’t hurt that much,” Zach said. “On a pain scale of 1 to 10, it’s like a 2.”

Zach says he was attacked by a nearly 10-foot alligator while fetching his dog’s ball. He was in waist-deep water near South Gulf Cove, and says the gator was on him in seconds.

But there was just enough time for Zach’s mother, Stacey Mills, to jump in, smack the gator and save her son.

“What would’ve happened if I made [the alligator] mad, and he turned around and bit me?” Stacey said. “We would have both probably died right there.”

Image of the nearly 10-foot alligator that attacked 14-year-old Zachary Mills at “Crystal Lake” in Charlotte County. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The alligator is now at a gator farm in Glades County. It’s up to the workers there if it will be euthanized.

Zach needs at least one more surgery but is expected to walk again. He’s using the attack as a lesson for himself and others.

“I probably shouldn’t have gone in the water to play with Kevin because we have, there’s a big open field there,” Zach said.

And his family is grateful for the outcome.

“He’s got toes and everything moves, and it’s all got blood,” Stacey said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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