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Florida Man Recalls Crocodile Attack in the Everglades: ‘I Didn't Feel Any Panic'

Rodrigo Constain, 68, was bit in the leg by a crocodile after he capsized his sailboat

<p>CBS Mornings/YouTube</p> Rodrigo Constain

CBS Mornings/YouTube

Rodrigo Constain
  • Rodrigo Constain, 68, survived a crocodile attack after he capsized his sailboat on Sunday

  • “I didn't have the strength to open his mouth but he just opened his mouth and released my leg,” he said of his encounter with the reptile, per WFOR

  • A GoFundMe was established to help pay for Rodrigo's medical expenses

A 68-year-old man who was bitten in the leg in a rare crocodile attack on Sunday in Florida’s Everglades said that he wasn’t panicking during the harrowing ordeal.

Rodrigo Constain of Miami recalled what happened to him to various media outlets after he returned home from that hospital.

"I didn't know what was holding me because I didn't enter in panic," he told NBC affiliate WTVJ. "I didn't know ... never I thought that it was a crocodile."

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In a news release shared on Monday, the National Park Service (NPS) said that authorities responded to the Flamingo Marina after a report of a crocodile bite – adding that a man, who was later identified as Constain, capsized his sailboat in the marina basin and tried to swim to shore with the boat when he was seen “going under water.”

NPS also said the victim was treated for a laceration in the leg and, per Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, was airlifted to a medical facility. At the time, the victim was reported to be in stable condition.

Related: 12-Year-Old Boy Recounts 'Terrifying' Crocodile Attack During Family Vacation at Mexico Resort

Constain told Fox affiliate WSVN that he knew his leg was stuck when he was in the water and found himself trying to pry away from the crocodile’s jaws.

“I tried to reach the boat again, to climb it, and I told myself ‘No, I cannot do that because if I try to climb it, he will grab me again,'” he told the outlet. “So, I put the boat in my back and pulled it with a rope and went underneath the boat and pulled it to the deck again and go swimming there so I can be rescued.”

Constain also remembered, per CBS affiliate WFOR, that during the struggle he put his hand into the creature’s long mouth and realized it was a crocodile. “I didn't have the strength to open his mouth but he just opened his mouth and released my leg,” he said. “When I was on shore and the park rangers were helping me, he was still swimming around."

Related: Man Killed, Woman Injured After Attack by Shark or Crocodile at Mexico Resort, Officials Say

As stated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), the American crocodile is considered a federally threatened species. The FWC also said that engagements between crocodiles and humans are very infrequent because the reptiles are generally shy and reclusive.

In its previous report about the attack on Constain, the Miami Herald said this type of incident is rare because crocodiles are located in isolated areas such as the southern Everglades.

According to a GoFundMe set up by his children on his behalf, Constain experienced major blood loss after the attack as he was receiving medical attention.

Related: Alligator in Florida Pictured with Top Half of Its Jaw Missing: 'Very Shocking'

“Dad, known for his indomitable spirit and love for boats, sailing and adventure, miraculously survived this ordeal,” wrote Catalina, Natalia and Viviana Constain in the description of the fundraiser for their father's medical expenses, which, as of Thursday, raised over $10,000. “We are immensely grateful that what could have been a tragedy didn't escalate further.”

The children wrote that Constain works in construction, adding that he won’t be able to do his job in the next couple of months due to the physical labor involved.

“We humbly reach out to you for support during this challenging time,” they said “Rodrigo's medical expenses are substantial, and he faces a long road to recovery, especially with the uncertainty of when he'll be able to regain full mobility in his left leg and return to work.”

PEOPLE contacted GoFundMe organizer Cataline Constain Shin for any additional information and updates.

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