Wild footage shows a powerful alligator named Darth Gator snapping hold of its handler and yanking her into the water at a Utah kids’ party — with a heroic parent leaping in to wrestle it so she could escape.
Scales & Tails Utah employee Lindsay Bull, 31, was filmed Saturday entering an enclosed tank to feed the 8½-foot animal as young kids and their parents stood watching from inches away.
As soon as she entered, the 150-pound reptile appeared to try to leave the enclosed area, then violently snapped down on Bull’s left hand as she tried to push him back.
“Hey, we got trouble here!” one of the parents yelled out as Bull was pulled into the water and spun around as Darth Gator performed a so-called “death roll.”
Despite the clear danger, 48-year-old newlywed Donnie Wiseman leaped into action within seconds, again yelling out, “Hey, we got trouble!”
He then jumped into the water and onto the back of the gator, pinning it down to stop it further rolling or thrashing around at the 5-year-old’s birthday party at the suburban Salt Lake City attraction.
As kids at the party cried in terror, Wiseman continued to lie on Darth Gator and control its movements, as Bull calmly gave instructions as another parent tried to help free her arm.
More than 90 seconds into the ordeal, Darth Gator started thrashing around again — with Bull managing to free her hand in the struggle, and another party-goer, Todd Christopher, quickly pulling her to safety.
“What do I do?” Wiseman implored as he remained on top of the powerful gator.
Following Bull’s instructions, Wiseman finally managed to run out of the penned-in tank, more than 2½ minutes after the gator snapped down on his handler.
Bull was rushed to a hospital for surgery, but said in a Facebook update that it “should result in full use of my hand.”
She told the “Today” show from her hospital bed Tuesday that the gator “really bit down.”
“And that’s when I realized, OK, this is gonna be serious,” she told the NBC show — calling Wiseman “a hero.”
Wiseman — who was with his stepson and new wife — told KUTV he assumed police would have had to come and shoot the alligator had they not been able to escape.
“Once I knew things were under control and EMTs were coming, I went out and smoked a cigarette, honestly,” he said.
Scales & Tails Utah called it the “sort of event that we hope never happens,” even with the “inherent risks that we as the staff accept.”
“These gentlemen could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but instead jumped into the situation, of their own volition, and helped secure the alligator,” the attraction said of the parents’ “heroism.”
Owner Shane Richins told KSL, “We never expect someone to jump in like that, but we’re super grateful they did.
“They probably saved her arm and possibly her life.”