Video: Alligator rams, flips FF-medic's kayak

Firefighter-Paramedic Peter Joyce captured the incident on a GoPro fitted to his chest


Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A kayaker enjoying North Carolina’s “blackwater” Waccamaw River learned a terrifying lesson Sunday of how unpredictable alligators can be when protecting their turf.

Peter Joyce posted a 2-minute video of the attack on YouTube noting: “While paddling the upper Waccamaw in N.C. I received a warm welcome from the wildlife.”

The video shows Joyce peacefully paddling for a full minute before something appears about 20 feet to his left, near the bank.

A split second later, an alligator with an open mouth is seen sprinting at the kayak, throwing water in the air as it rams the front of the craft.

Joyce is immediately flipped into a tangle of limbs and the camera shows he was submerged as the alligator remained unseen.

The entire attack takes less than 4 seconds. Joyce quickly rights himself in the video, but the then freezes as he waits for a second attack that doesn’t come.

In the final seconds of the video, he is seen paddling quickly in the opposite direction of the attack.

“I thought I heard a fish jump to my left,” Joyce told WECT. “About three feet from the kayak I made out the head of the gator and that was it, I had no time to react.”

Joyce, a firefighter and paramedic, says he felt the weight of the alligator “brush against the bottom” of the kayak as it darted over him” CNN reported.

Alligators are common in the coastal waterways of both Carolinas and males grow to 13 feet and 500 pounds, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Attacks involving humans occur sporadically in the region, including a fatal attack of a woman May 1 on Kiawah Island in S.C.

Joyce addressed questions from some commenters on YouTube, several of whom noted he was lucky.

“Submerged tree limbs to the right kept me from inverting completely!” he wrote. “It was definitely a mature adult is all I can say!”

Commenters also noted how calm Joyce was during the incident. He says that’s because his “brain was trying to get caught up.”

The video has been seen more than a quarter of a million times since being posted Monday. It was recorded on a Go Pro Hero 8 Black, fitted to his chest, he said on YouTube.

The Waccamaw River parallels the coast in southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina. It is “considered one of the finest blackwater rivers in the Southeast,” according to Americanrivers.org.

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©2020 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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