Underwatertimes.com News Service - September 17, 2007 14:10 EST
alligator eats snorkeler arm

The beast with the snorkeler's arm. Photo: Jerome Bien

Bill Hedden alligator

Bill Hedden being attended to after the alligator attack. Photo: Jerome Bien

alligator with arm inside

The alligator was shot several times before Hedden's arm was removed from inside

A man is hospitalized in Charleston after an alligator bit off one of his arms at a Lake Moultrie recreation area.

Bill Hedden, 59, is being treated at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital. Hedden's family has told the hospital not to release any information about his condition.

Hedden was snorkeling in a Lake Moultrie recreation area when the gator attacked him about 3:45 p.m. Sunday.

Hedden stumbled into a party of picnickers with his arm missing and blood gushing from his wound.

Five nurses were among those at the gathering and put ice on his wound and kept him awake until paramedics could arrive.

Bill Salisbury with the Berkeley County Rescue Squad said Hedden's arm was retrieved from the belly of the alligator Sunday after wildlife officers shot it. The arm was taken to the hospital and doctors were studying whether it could be reattached.

The alligator was nearly 12 feet long and weighed about 550 pounds.

Alligators are indigenous to South Carolina and are found in lakes, swamps, and slow-moving streams. Experts say alligators are active year around, but they are most active in the warmer months in Georgia and South Carolina.

Although they are generally found in freshwater, alligators sometimes venture into brackish salt water.