Hero construction worker who saved alligator handler at Salt Lake City reveals she guided him free


A heroic construction worker who saved the life of an alligator handler who was attacked while trying to feed the animal at a children’s birthday party says it feels ‘amazing’ to have saved a life, and that the handler guided him free after escaping herself.  

Donnie Wiseman, 48, from Kaysville, Utah, went viral after his wife Theresa shared a clip of him wrestling an alligator during a party in Scales & Tails in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

The couple were at the petting zoo with their six-year-old son when the handler was pulled into the alligator’s pen, whipped around while gripped in the alligator’s jaws. 

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning via video link today, Donnie, who was joined by Theresa, explained he’s been left with a few scratches but is okay – while Theresa added the party continued and they enjoyed cake and opened presents shortly after the attack. 

Donnie also shared how the handler – who is known only as Lyndsey – explained to him what to do and how to escape from the alligator once she’d been freed. 

Donnie Wiseman, 48, from Kaysville, Utah, went viral after his wife Theresa (pictured) shared a clip of him wrestling an alligator during a party in Scales & Tails in Salt Lake City.

‘I didn’t want anything to happen to that girl,’ Donnie explained.

‘I knew when he [the alligator] bit down on the hand, that we were in trouble.

‘I’d seen her face and she was scared. I was scared. I have experience with reptiles from my past, not alligator by any means, you need to have a permit for that. 

‘Honestly, I’m watching it again and  I’m so glad I could assist her, she remained cool and calm, she was such a hero.  

‘After she gets pulled out, she was still there and she helped me get out of there with out getting any injuries. 

‘It definitely wasn’t something I expected to ever do in my life. Saving someone from an alligator, in Utah!’

‘Once I was in there he asked what do I need to do, and she said “just talk to me”‘

The couple were at the centre with their six-year-old son for a children's birthday party when the handler was pulled into the alligator's pen, whipped around while gripped in the alligator's jaws. Donnie is pictured wrestling the alligator

The couple were at the centre with their six-year-old son for a children’s birthday party when the handler was pulled into the alligator’s pen, whipped around while gripped in the alligator’s jaws. Donnie is pictured wrestling the alligator

‘I said, “what’s your name?”, she said, “my name’s Lyndsey” and then he [the alligator] let go’. 

‘After we released her I knew, don’t let go. She asked me if I was bit, I sat up, let him shake me a couple times and I though “I just can’t slip”. 

‘I made my move and got out unscathed.’  

Discussing his recovery, Donnie added he rang up his colleagues afterwards to let them know what happened.

‘I have a few scratches but it was so important that this girl didn’t die. 

‘I got a personalised message from her mum. It felt really good to know  I saved someone’s life,’ he added.

Appearing on ITV's This Morning via video link today, Donnie, who was joined by Theresa, explained he's been left with a few scratches but is okay - while Theresa added the party continued and they enjoyed cake and opened presents shortly after the attack

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning via video link today, Donnie, who was joined by Theresa, explained he’s been left with a few scratches but is okay – while Theresa added the party continued and they enjoyed cake and opened presents shortly after the attack

Theresa added:  ‘People ask why I kept filming, I was in shock. 

‘I started filming to film the gator being fed and then he jumped in I was frozen.

‘Once he was out I stopped. I was in shock. As soon as he got out I was shaking and crying. 

‘Right after we went back and still had cake and presents. 

‘The kids who were taken out right at the beginning. 

‘My six-year-old son was there and he didn’t comprehend what happened.’. 

Shane Richins, Scale and Tails owner, said in an interview Monday that the handler was opening the enclosure to feed the alligator as usual, but this time the reptile ‘got a little extra spunky.’

Richins said the centre normally has a strict policy for a second handler to be nearby when employees are working with the alligators. 

However, that hasn’t been enforced in recent years if the worker isn’t planning to enter the enclosure, he said.

‘We still enforce it strictly whenever somebody gets in with the gator but, of course, going forward, we will be back to strictly enforcing it with any interactions with the gator for that very reason,’ Richins said.

Richins said the handler underwent surgery and is taking antibiotics.

The West Valley City business said Sunday she is ‘doing well and is in recovery.’



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