I was surfing the web this morning when I ran across this news article. It caught my eye because I was born in New Orleans and raised across the lake in Slidell, La. Apparently 11 yr. old Devin Funck and two of his friends were swimming in a lake not far from where I lived for almost 20 years.

Being from Louisiana I can vouch for the fact that the summer days are hot and as a kid myself that lived on a bayou we was always in the water swimming and yes at times there were alligators that would come in from the swamps but it still didn’t stop us from going swimming.

The alligator that attacked Devin had been sighted lots of times by people in nearby subdivisions what they call Crystal Lake. They even nicknamed the gator as Big Joe, which measured out to be 10 ft and 8 inches long and weighed about 800 pounds. That is kind of big for an 11 year old child to be wrestling with.

While the kids were swimming and splashing each other in the water they noticed Big Joe swimming towards them. All three started swimming to the shore but Big Joe caught Devin and pulled him under. Necn.com said that family members told the Times Picayune that Devin managed to get away by poking the gator in its eye but not before Big Joe bit his left arm completely off from his shoulder down.

Devin was taken to Slidell Memorial Hospital but was later airlifted to Oschner Medical Center in Jefferson Parish, just outside New Orleans.

St. Tammany alligator expert who is a sheriff’s deputy, Howard McCrea got to the lake around 4 pm. They hooked the gator on a line but it snapped the line and got free. They continued tracking the gator around for the next two hours. McCrea eventually hooked it again when State wildlife agent Sgt. Darryl Galloway fired several shots and killed it around 5:45 pm.

St. Tammany Parish officers removed the boy’s arm from its belly and they wrapped it in a wet towel, put it in an ice chest and rushed it to the hospital by patrol car.  3 ½ hours
The boy was brought into surgery at Ochsner Medical Center with hope of being able to reattached the severed arm.

Devin’s mother, Kim Funck said at first she didn’t know how severe the bite was. “I thought he got bit,” she said Wednesday night. “When they told me it took his whole arm off out of socket I was floored. I think I am numb. I’m just numb”

She said her son wasn’t an excessive swimmer but he did love the outdoors and he rode his bike a lot. “Anything outdoors, that’s Devin,” she said.

Apparently Devin loved playing on his Playstation 3 too. His mother said that his first words to her were, “I’m sorry, I know alligators are dangerous.” Then he said, “How am I going to play my game now?”

Kim Funck said there are a lot of alligators in all of the canals and ponds around the subdivision Kingspoint but they never got much attention until now. She wants to warn other children to stay away from these ponds.

Two other local boys told reporters that they typically swim there a lot but have never had any trouble with Big Joe or any of the other gators before. “We’ve swam in Crystal Lake all the time, some summers every day and the gators never bother us. They just swim around and live in the holes deep at the bottom,” said Phillip Borkowski. 15, who is a Kingspoint resident. Brandon Campo, 15 said that whenever they would approach the alligators they would get spooked and swim off.

I hope and pray Devin has a complete recovery after his surgery. My prayers will be with you Devin.

Jan Barrett

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