‘Walking Miracle’ Air Force Vet Uses Vicious Alligator Attack to Point to Jesus: ‘Find Him’
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The wife of one Air Force veteran is calling her husband a “walking miracle” after he survived a vicious attack by an alligator that clamped down on his head, cracking his skull and puncturing his brain.
Alive to talk about the harrowing encounter, Juan Carlos La Verde is using it to point people to Jesus.
The Florida native, who goes by JC Defeats, told local news he was swimming in Lake Thonotosassa, about 20 miles northeast of Tampa, on Aug. 3, when he unwittingly swam through the cloudy water and right into a 12-foot-long alligator — a potentially deadly confrontation captured by drone footage.
La Verde — a firefighter and paramedic — told WTVT-TV he had “an unbelievable amount of faith in myself that I wasn’t going to die” during the vicious attack. He added, “I was going to be OK, but I needed to act for sure.”
He told another news outlet, WFTS-TV, he “immediately tried to open” the alligator’s jaws, which had clamped down tightly around his head, explaining, “When I felt the teeth, I immediately knew, and then, as I opened it, I knew that I either turned it or it turned me, but it was confused just as I was confused, and then it just let go. She let go, and she didn’t have to let go.”
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La Verde, a triathlete, then quickly swam to a nearby dock.
Immediately after the attack, a good Samaritan drove him to the hospital. La Verde called 911 while he was in the car to tell emergency officials what had just happened. He was ultimately admitted to the hospital, where he was in emergency surgery for six hours. He remained at the hospital for eight days.
“The bite crushed his skull, and it punctured his brain, so they ended up having to do a craniectomy — remove part of his temporal lobe,” said his wife Christina.
The alligator broke La Verde’s jaw and damaged a facial nerve. He will have to undergo more procedures in the future to repair the damage. He has also had his jaw temporarily wired shut and will have to wear a helmet to protect his head until it has fully healed.
Despite all he’s been through, though, La Verde is using his newfound platform to point people to his ultimate hope and assurance: Faith in Jesus Christ.
“I’m asking you to be tough because the world is a really difficult place, and, man, is it challenging to maneuver without God and ultimately Jesus Christ in your heart,” he told WTVT-TV. “Find your God. Find Him. I get that’s scary — I do — but life is a scary place, so you can carry that load by yourself or have someone carry it for you.”
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