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Man Describes 1986 Gator Attack at Disney Resort: 'I Started Kicking at the Alligator's Head'


Thirty years before tragedy struck at a Disney World resort, the Magic Kingdom was the site of a similar gator nightmare, and Paul Santamaria still bears the scars.

Read: 'Intact' Body of Toddler Recovered, Questions Raised About Safety At Disney Resorts After Gator Attack

Santamaria was 8 years old when he was attacked by an alligator while vacationing at Disney World. In 1986, he was feeding ducks at this pond when the seven-foot gator pounced.

"It hit me, knocked me down, turned its head and ran away. It was thrashing around and trying to pull me into the pond," he told Inside Edition. 

Santamaria, his brother and his sister fought for their lives.

"My sister grabbed me under the arms and tried to have a tug-of-war with this alligator. My brother started to try and look for anything to throw at it and hit him with," he said. "With my other leg available I started kicking at the alligator’s head."

Santamaria was hospitalized for a week. He said he “had a tooth embedded in my thigh, which was pushing on my artery.”

He was visited by Mickey Mouse and Snow White while hospitalized. 

Santamaria says his heart breaks for little Lane Graves, who wasn't as lucky as he was all those years ago.

"It sent a chill up my spine," he admitted. 

Piles of flowers have been placed by friends at the front door of the Graves residence outside Omaha, Nebraska since the passing of their 2-year-old son, Lane, who was nabbed by an alligator at a Disney World resort.

Lane Graves's father, Matt, was a champion wrestler in high school but even he was no match for the alligator that snatched his little boy from the Disney World lagoon.

Read: 'Tough as Nails' Father Did All He Could to Save Son From Alligator: Family Friend

Family friend Jon Kneifl told Inside Edition: “Matt was a state champion wrestler and is tough as nails. I know that he would do anything to try to help his son. He probably fought as hard as he could. I know Matt and he gave it everything he could.”

The couple also has a 4-year-old daughter. 

Watch: After Disney Alligator Attack, Survivors Talk Encounters With the Reptiles: 'He's Gone With My Arm

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