LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (WFLA/SNN) – A Lakewood Ranch man is telling his story of an alligator attack in April, according to Suncoast News Network.

Samuel Ray was attacked by an alligator by a Lakewood Ranch pond during a game of catch.

“It was about a foot away from the water. And then as soon as I put my hand on the ball, I bent over and picked it up. That’s when I saw the gator’s eye. And lunged out, and it was so fast, it was like a lightning strike,” Ray told SNN.

The gator clamped down on his hand. Ray’s shoulder was dislocated and he was waist deep in the water.

Though injured, he fought back.

“I just knew that I had one second and socked him as hard as I could so that he would release my hand,” he said.

The gator released its grip on Ray’s hand and Ray crawled out of the water. His family called 911.

He sustained a detached nerve and blood loss. After three surgeries, his hand is intact.

Ray said the injury is still painful, but he’s lucky.

“…I am able to move my hand, which I’m lucky to have a hand, I’m lucky to have an arm. I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Adam Brown told SNN alligators are more visible during mating season and in warm weather. FWC reports also show an uptick of alligator conflicts with humans, according to SNN.

Brown told the outlet he believes it’s due to the influx of population.

“…the population has grown, the habitat is shrinking, and the number of alligators is the same,” he said.

Brown said if you find yourself in a similar situation with an alligator, fight back.

“Go for the sensitive areas, the eyes or the snout of that alligator. And let him know that you are the alpha and that this is not a typical prey item that he’s going after,” he said.