BEAUFORT, S.C. (CN) – A golfer whose right arm was ripped off and eaten by a 10-foot alligator says he never would have tried to play a shot near the water hazard if the course had warned him there were alligators about. The alligator pulled him into and under the water, and as his son and other golfers helped him stagger back to land, James Wiencek says, “the alligator swam away, having eaten plaintiff’s arm.”
Wiencek sued the Fripp Island Resort and affiliates in Federal Court.
Wiencek and his son went to the Ocean Creek Golf Club at the Fripp Island Resort near Beaufort on Oct. 8, 2009, for an afternoon round of golf.
On the 11th hole, Wiencek hit his ball near, but not into, a big deep pond, surrounded by a steep bank covered by long grass. The pond itself was dark and brackish, at no time allowing a hint of what lay beneath the surface.
“When the plaintiff reached his right arm towards the ball, without warning, a large, 10-foot long alligator spring from the brackish and dark water and attacked the plaintiff, biting and holding plaintiff’s right arm,” the complaint states.
“The alligator then pulled Plaintiff into the water and attempted to initiate a roll, pulling plaintiff underwater. Plaintiff struggled with the alligator, and the alligator tore plaintiff’s right arm off in a violent and vicious manner above the elbow.
“Plaintiff was helped to the shore by his son and attended to by other patrons of the course.
“The alligator swam away, having eaten plaintiff’s arm.”
Wiencek says that before the attack, “residents of nearby homes had noticed the alligator’s large size and aggressive behavior and had alerted the defendants to its presence and behavior.”
Despite having “actual and constructive knowledge of the ongoing presence and aggressive behavior of the large alligator,” the defendants “failed to take reasonable action to secure the premises of the golf course and to warn its business invitees, including the plaintiff, of the alligator’s aggressive presence, size, or aggressive behavior,” according to the complaint.
Wiencek seeks actual and punitive damages for negligence, pain and suffering, mental anguish, discomfort and disability.
He is represented by Mark Chappell and William McAngus Jr., with Chappell, Smith & Arden of Columbia, S.C.
The defendants are the Fripp Island Resort, The Ocean Courses of Fripp, Fripp Island Co. and The Marina Village of Fripp.