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MOORE HAVEN, Florida - A teenager lost his right arm below the elbow in an alligator attack while swimming in the Caloosahatchee River, according to officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
FWC's Jorge Pino says the 11-foot gator was found and killed Monday evening after the attack that happened in the water near River Road, southwest of US-27, close to Lake Okeechobee.
Officials say the arm was found inside the gator.
"This area isn't Disneyland. It's right next to Lake O and there are thousands of alligators here," said FWC Captain Jeff Ardelean.
The victim, 17-year-old Kaleb Langdale, was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital after the attack. The arm was sent to the hospital, but friends said doctors were not able to reattach the limb.
Friends who were with Langdale at the time of the attack said they were not taunting the animal.
"It ended up being about a 10-and-a-half-foot gator who came straight at him. It came at him and he put his arm in the way instead of letting it get to his body. It took his arm and him under," said friend Matt Baker.
Another friend, Gary Beck, said Langdale popped out of the water shortly after the attack.
"He was waving saying, 'Call the paramedics! My arm is gone!'" Beck described.
"It was scary. I couldn't believe it was real at the moment," Baker added.
FWC officials said it was a dangerous time of year for swimming because alligator mating season means attacks are not uncommon.
"Any type of splash in the water is prey for them," Captain Ardelean said.
Beck and Baker said Langdale was in good spirits. They said he was just happy the gator got his right arm instead of his left because that is what he uses to steer his airboat.