Brazilian recovers from gator attack

July 15, 1996
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MIAMI, July 15 -- A young Brazilian tourist was recuperating Monday at a Miami hospital after a harrowing weekend alligator attack in the Florida Everglades National Park. A six-foot (2 m) alligator grabbed 7-year-old Alexandre Teixeira in its jaws Saturday after the child tumbled from his bicycle into a shallow canal at the park's Shark Valley Tour Road. Alexandre's family, his father, mother and two siblings, had just rented the bikes and were less than 50 yards (46 m) from the Shark Valley Visitor's Center, about 30 miles (48 km) west of Miami, when the attack occurred. According to park rangers, Helio and Maria Teixeira, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, jumped into the grassy water between two and three feet (one meter) deep and pounded on the alligator until it let go of their son. The gator swam off as the frantic parents carried Alexandre to the Visitor's Center were rangers administered first aid and radioed for a helicopter to airlift the boy to Miami Children's Hospital. Alexandre was recovering smoothly from several puncture wounds in his chest and shoulder, doctors reported Monday. According to hospital spokeswoman Laura Cruz, the boy was moved Sunday from the intensive case unit into a regular room. The youngster was feeling well enough to play Nintendo games, added officials. Maria Teixeira was treated at a second Miami hospital for puncture wounds on her hands, but did not require hospitalization. None of the other family members suffered injuries. The attack was unusual, according to park superintendent Richard Ring.

'It was a very rare occurrence,' said Ring, who called the incident 'perhaps the first visitor-alligator accident since the park was established in 1947.' Still, park officials were taking no chances. The Shark Valley Tour Road, one of the most popular attractions in Everglades National Park, was closed to bicyclists and hikers until the attack had been fully investigated. Sightseers would be restricted to park-operated tram tours through the area. Rangers would closely monitor the area to determine whether the animal had become a 'nuisance' and posed a threat to other visitors, officials said.

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