A man was hospitalized after a 9-foot crocodile bit him in Coral Gables in the first reported crocodile attack in the United States.
Alejandro Jimenez was visiting friends at a home in the 1300 block of Lugo Avenue when he decided to go for a swim in the brackish water around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said.
Crocodile attacks are unheard of in the U.S., according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is investigating the incident.
FWC officials said the incident was even more rare because a second person was also bitten. Lissett Rendon, who was swimming alongside Jimenez, was bitten on the shoulder, but she managed to get away and swim to the dock.
"Our understanding [was] they were jumping in and out of the water," said FWC spokesman Jorge Pino. "Perhaps that attracted the attention of the crocodile."
Jimenez also managed to free himself from the crocodile, Denham said, but he suffered multiple lacerations to his arm, shoulder and back. His hand was shredded, exposing the tendons, and bite marks could be seen on the side of his torso.
Coral Gables Fire Rescue responded and took Jimenez to South Miami Hospital where he is now recovering.
The crocodile was reported to be between 8 and 9 feet long, weighs about 350 pounds, and hasn't been captured, officials said.
Neighbors said this crocodile, who they know as 'Poncho,' has visited their backyard canals for the last 10 years.
FWC officials said that there are clear warnings posted in the area that no swimming is allowed and to beware of crocodiles. While crocodiles are shy, reclusive animals, they do not differentiate between potential food sources, so officials warn to steer clear of bodies of water near dusk and dawn when crocodiles are more active.
The FWC is now trying to locate the crocodile that bit Jimenez and Rendon so it can be relocated. The crocodile will be taken somewhere that is properly licensed.