HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A local Girl Scout troop is telling only KPRC 2 about the exhilarating moments when they swam for their lives over the weekend, just feet away from an alligator in Lake Raven at Huntsville State Park.
It happened Saturday evening as the Spring-area troop went to the state park for an overnight camping trip to explore the park and learn how to fish.
“I was thinking, this is the day I die,” 11-year-old Ava Miller said. “It was moving faster than us or about the same.”
Cell phone video captured panic and chaos in the swimming area as the alligator, estimated to be 14 feet long, charged toward Troop 114204 as if they had a table full of cookies for sale.
“This is an emergency!,” the person recording the video exclaimed. “Look how big it is!”
The gator got closer to the swimmers as scout Erin White jumped off the dock and into the water.
“I thought (the other troops) were leaving me to go, so I jumped off and followed,” White said.
Amid the screaming, she chased after her friends and didn’t see the gator until troop leader Nichole Glenn helped her to safety.
“There was no doubt in my mind that that alligator was not going to try and eat somebody,” Glenn said.
She put herself between the gator and White while helping White out of the water.
“I always say that I love them to death. I always say I would do anything for them. Now, I definitely know I would do anything for them,” Glenn said.
It took a couple of hours for everyone to calm down, she said, and process the event they described as “exhilarating.”
“Some of us were freaking out a little bit because we just realized that an alligator was about to attack us,” Miller said.
The Brave Scouts, less known than Thin Mints, are gaining attention online.
They have mixed feelings about swimming in the lake again after the life-or-death experience with the gator they’ve named “Karen,” teaching them a simple yet important life lesson early.
“I was close enough to get hurt. And I didn’t even know it was there. So I should probably focus on my surroundings more,” White said.
Park police officers closed the swimming area for the rest of the day, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. A spokesperson said the state agency has removed several nuisance alligators from the state park in the past and is evaluating if the same needs to be done this time.
While alligator attacks are rare in Texas, TPWD says they can happen. If you come across an alligator, here are tips from TPWD on what to do.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for TPWD told KPRC 2′s Bryce Newberry they have discussed additional signage and plan to make this happen as fast as they can since the recent incident.
“There is current signage in place in English and Spanish to assist with educating our visitors of the are alligators in the area,” the spokesperson said.
Additionally, the spokesperson said the park hosts “gator talks” with an interpretive ranger at their nature center every weekend.
“This is to supplement the already posted signage, as well as help educate visitors about the alligators that exist in the park and considerations to living harmoniously with them,” the spokesperson said.
When asked about the purpose of the net or buoy line in the swim area, the spokesperson said there are two buoy lines.
“One outlines the entire area within the lake and only swimming is allowed in this area,” the spokesperson said. “The second buoy line is an indicator of the shallow area and the deeper area. There is no net in the area and there never has been in all the years the area has been open to the public.”