An Everglades City airboat captain whose hand was bitten off by an alligator last month was arrested Friday, now facing a charge of feeding the reptile.
Wallace “Wally” Weatherholt, 63, was released from jail Friday on $1,000 bond after his arrest on a charge of unlawful feeding of an alligator, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said Weatherholt, an employee of Captain Doug’s Everglades Tours, was giving an Indiana family an airboat tour June 12 when a 9-foot alligator bit off his left hand.
A woman on the airboat told NBC-2 that Weatherholt was feeding the alligator before he patted the water, trying to get the alligator to surface. That’s when the reptile attacked, the woman said.
The June 12 attack wasn’t the first time a Collier County resident lost a hand or a limb to an alligator.
Between January 2011 and May 2012, six people were warned and 13 cited in Florida for feeding or enticing an alligator, according to FWC records.
In July 2010, an alligator bit off the left hand of Tim Delano, then 18, as he was playing in a swimming hole off Alligator Alley near Everglades Boulevard. Delano later was fitted with a hook and a prosthetic hand but told the Daily News later that year that he mostly avoids using it.
More recently, 90-year-old Margaret Webb lost her left leg below the knee in August after being attacked by an alligator while she stood in the front yard of her Copeland home.
And on July 9, 17-year-old Kaleb Langdale of Moore Haven lost his right arm from the elbow down in an alligator attack while swimming in the Caloosahatchee River, FWC officers reported.
The 11-foot gator was found and killed later that night after the attack that happened in the water near River Road, southwest of U.S. 27.
The arm of was found inside the gator but it could not be reattached, officials said.