Polk County

GATOR ATTACK: Canadian tourist saves Florida man from giant gator

Canadian tourist visiting Lakeland saves man during gator attack

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) - Scott Pearson says he doesn't think of himself as a hero.

His actions, however, tell a different story.

The Canadian tourist was in the right place at the right time and saved an elderly man's life during a gator attack Monday in Lakeland.

It happened as Scott and his wife, Andrea, were visiting his parents in the Cypress Lakes Retirement Community. On Monday, the couple decided to go for a walk.

That's when they got the shock of a lifetime. 

"First reaction was... I can't believe what I'm seeing," Scott told WFLA from his home in Stoney Creek, Ontario.

"It was surreal, is the only way I could sum it up. It was like, right out of a movie."

Scott was stunned by what he and his wife saw.

An alligator, nearly 10 feet long, was attacking an 85-year-old man. The gator had the man's foot in its mouth. 

Scott knew there was only one thing to do: jump into action. He knew he had to save the man and stop the gator.

"It was flailing," he explained. "I can remember seeing the underbelly of the gator. So, we knew, this was real."

Scott says his adrenaline was racing.

He would later tell his wife, "I don't think I've run that fast in 20 years."

Scott and his wife, along with several others, called 911 and ran to the rescue.

"We just kind of looked at each other and said, 'let's go,'" Scott said.

Luckily, the gator let go.

Scott then ripped off his shirt and it was used as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

It would save the elderly man's life.

The 85-year-old victim, George Ihle, survived the attack and was last listed in stable condition on Tuesday. 

Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff's Office took a photo with the victim while visiting him in the hospital.

Scott, meanwhile, is back in Canada. 

He says the next time he visits his parents in Lakeland, he'll stay on the far side of the street, away from the pond where the gator was found. 

Scott had high praise for the first responders who answered the 911 call that day, telling us that "they arrived within minutes" and worked quickly.

Scott is also sending warm wishes from up North, hoping George Ihle has a peaceful, speedy recovery.   


More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News - Local

Video Center