Lake Wales golfer, 75, survives harrowing encounter with gator

By Erin Mahoney, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012
A 75-year-old Lake Wales man is recovering from a terrifying golf outing in the Lake Ashton community.
Al Miller says that when he went to retrieve a ball from a water hazard at the 15th hole, a nine-foot alligator came out of nowhere and lunged straight for him.
The gator, Miller said, "picked me up three feet off the ground and slammed me down."
Miller says that if it wasn't for his golf partner, Ted Price, he might not be alive.
"(The gator) started dragging me in the water, and all kinds of euphoric panic set in because I thought I was a goner," Miller said.
Price says he and another friend grabbed Miller and held on "the best we could at the time."
"The gator was thrashing," Price said. "He was fighting. He was fighting to pull Al in the water."
Miller thought the gator was going to win.
"I was about three feet from my destiny," he said. "He was doing his thing. He was going to take me under water, where he was going to take me and twirl me. And kill me."
Suddenly, though, the gator stopped its attack.
"(Miller) was in to the waist at that particular time, and for some reason, (the gator) just let go," Price said.
Price and a friend loaded Miller into a golf cart and got him to an ambulance. He was transported to a hospital and is home and doing OK now.
A trapper caught the gator, and it has been destroyed.
"There was an angel looking after me," Miller said. "I witnessed a miracle; I really did."
Miller says he has heard about people feeding gators in the area and wants them to know how dangerous that is. If he had been golfing alone, he points out, the situation might have turned out differently.