Boynton Beach, Florida -- A South Florida boy is lucky to be alive after finding himself in the jaws of an eight-foot alligator.
Joey Welch and his father were supposed to go canoeing Friday afternoon at the Loxahatchee Wildlife Reserve. Right before they got started, Joey briefly wandered away and stumbled into the water's edge.
That's when the gator chomped down and got a hold of the 6-year-old boy's arm.
Joseph Welch heard his son's screams and jumped into action, punching the reptile's head as hard as he could.
A good Samaritan then rushed over to help.
"[He] kicked the alligator in the stomach, in the mid-section while I was punching him," Welch said. "Fortunately the alligator did eventually release and I was able to get my son out of the water."
Joey was rushed to a nearby hospital, remarkably with only some cuts and bruises. His dad also had a bruised right hand from punching the gator.
His mom believes there was an angel watching over Joey during the death-defying scare.
"Why my son has an arm today, why he doesn't have puncture marks... it's a miracle," said Jackie Welch.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says trappers were able to trap and kill the alligator.
"We are extremely relieved the child made it out of this potentially deadly incident with only minor injuries," said Rolf Olson, an official at the wildlife refuge. "This really could have ended very badly. We thank the members of the public who saw this happening and selflessly rushed in to do the right thing."
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