A man fearlessly jumped into action to save an animal handler after an alligator bit into her hand and dragged her into its enclosure.
Lindsay Bull is an alligator trainer at Scales and Tails, a petting zoo in West Valley City, Utah. She was facilitating at a 5-year-old kid’s birthday party and discussing alligators.
Her presentation was going pretty great, as young kids and their parents intently listened to her while watching the alligator, named Darthgator, from the other side of the plexiglass wall.
But when Lindsay opened the door to feed the 150-pound reptile, things took a dangerous turn—the 80-foot-long gator bit down firmly on her hand and yanked her into its tank.
“Initially it was like, ‘Oh, he bit me,’ but then he really bit down, and that’s when I realized, ‘OK, this is going to be serious,’” the 31-year-old told NBC News.
The alligator became more aggressive and started thrashing Lindsay around in the water, a maneuver known as the “death roll.”
Thankfully, a man named Donnie Wiseman, who was there with his stepson and wife, leaped into action within seconds.
“Hey, we got trouble here!” he yelled out.
Donnie jumped into the tank and onto the alligator’s back, trying to pin it down to stop it from further thrashing around. Kids cried in fear, and the adults pulled them away from the scene.
Donnie continued lying on the alligator’s back to control its movements as Lindsay calmly gave him instructions. Another dad, Todd Christopher, tried to help free her arm.
Over 90 seconds into the terrifying ordeal, Darthgator started flailing again, and Lindsay managed to free her hand in the struggle. Todd quickly pulled her out of the enclosed tank.
“What do I do?” Donnie asked as he remained on top of the gator. With Lindsay’s instructions, he was also able to get out safely.
Donnie’s wife, Theresa, caught the harrowing moment on camera.
“I knew that if I didn’t get in there and hold this animal down, he was going to tear her arm,” the 48-year-old said.
Amy Christopher, who had a nursing background, started first aid on Lindsay before the EMT arrived.
Donnie thought the police would have had to shoot the animal had they not been able to get out.
“Once I knew things were under control and EMTs were coming, I went out and smoked a cigarette, honestly,” he said.
Lindsay was rushed to the hospital with injuries to her hand. In an update on the Scales and Tails Facebook page, Lindsay said that an orthopedic surgeon came up with a solution that should result in full use of her hand.
She also said that she is being “treated aggressively with antibiotics.”
“Lastly, I’ve had the most wonderful nursing staff that have made me feel safe and comfortable since I got here. I definitely want to thank everyone that has reached out and for doing so, as well; it’s made recovery feel so much more manageable! Thank you!” she concluded the update.
She’s grateful to Donnie and the other parents for risking their own safety to save her.
“He’s a hero for having done what he did,” Lindsay said of her rescuer. “I couldn’t have gotten luckier with the people that were around.”
Scales and Tails called the incident the “sort of event that we hope never happens,” even with the “inherent risks that we as the staff accept.”
“These gentlemen could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but instead jumped into the situation, of their own volition, and helped secure the alligator,” they said of the brave parents who helped Lindsay escape.
Learn more about this story in the video below from USA Today.
Now that’s a hero. Mad respect to you, Donnie. Thank you for your bravery!