BOSTON (CBS) – A New Hampshire man is reliving his nightmare over again after a two-year-old boy was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World.
Thirty years have passed, but for Paul Santamaria, what happened in the fall of 1986 will always be with him.
“As a kid I just knew that I was in trouble,” Santamaria said.
Paul’s family had just arrived at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort when he and his siblings discovered a playground on the water’s edge.
“I was feeding ducks near the water’s edge and there was an alligator submerged under the water where you couldn’t see it and it came up out of the water and hit me and knocked me on the ground,” he recalled. “It just started throwing me around, trying to pull me into the water and my first reaction was just to grab the ground, to hold on and to yell for my brother and sister.”
For what must have seemed like an eternity, Paul’s sister engaged in a violent tug of war with the seven and a half foot long alligator. His brother threw what he could find. “I started kicking with my available leg and it opened its mouth and let me go.”
Then eight, Paul spent a week in the hospital.
“Front of the leg, across the knee cap, up the shin,” Santamaria said pointing at his scars. “I had to have a tooth removed from my thigh which had been pressed against my femoral artery. It affected me for quite some time.”
Then this week, 30-year-old memories vividly returned.
“It’s nobody’s fault, anything can happen at any time and you just hope that your kids will stay safe and that you can keep them safe and that they’ll grow up healthy,” he said.