ROTONDA, Florida -- The former Jacksonville man who was bitten by an alligator while diving for golf balls in Charlotte County on Friday remains in the hospital.
Scott Lahodik had lived in Jacksonville for 16 years but moved to South Florida in January.
Lahodik has been diving for golf balls for 30 years, but Friday, a gator attacked him in the lake off the sixth hole at a Charlotte County golf course.
He was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital and underwent surgery, according to Florida wildlife officials.
Lahodik is in the ICU on Saturday morning with a risk of infection. He needs more surgeries, according to his wife.
The gator bit Lahodik “just above the elbow (and) tore down quite a bit,” says David Kelly, general manager of The Rotonda Golf and Country Club, The Palms Course.
Charlotte County EMS says the diver fought for his life against the 10-foot gator, freed his arm from its mouth, drove himself to the clubhouse and called 911.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Lt. Michael Frantz, FWC, said the gator a nuisance and had to be euthanized. The reptile was sedated and pulled from the lake.
"He has been diving for over 30 years doing this as well as his two other brothers," Martiza Lahodik said. "He knew to go limp when the gator did the death roll. As soon as the gator let go he swam away and when he came back at him he punched him on the eyes."
"The gator chased him as he was trying to climb over the bank of the lake. He managed to climb out with one arm badly shredded and scuba gear on."
Lahodik said her husband is "tough, and had it been anyone else he would not have survived."
She also defended his job as necessary to maintain golf courses and fired back at critics who said he shouldn't have been in the gator's habitat.
"These services are needed to keep the golf courses in good condition and it's a job that someone has to do. They paint him as a golfer greedy for a ball and that's not the case. We believe someone had been feeding the gator because he's been diving there for years and the gator never bothered him.
Lahodik's daughter Kaelin says her dad is anxious about the bills because he's the only provider in the family. She has set up a GoFundMe page for people to help.
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