Dad Saves the Day ... With a Trash Can

'I used the front like a hippo mouth' to catch alligator, says Florida man Eugene Bozzi
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2021 10:55 AM CDT

Spotting a 6-foot-long alligator in his yard where his and other neighborhood kids were playing, Eugene Bozzi decided to play the hippo. The 26-year-old man from Mount Dora, Fla., is seen in a viral video approaching the alligator with a trash container on wheels, its lid flung open, per USA Today. "Let me know when the head goes inside," the Army vet tells a watching crowd. The Philadelphia native, who's lived in Florida for about a year, then inches toward the gator as it backs up near the front door of a home, finally flipping the lid, hitting the gator in the head and seeming to force him into the bin.

"I used the front like a hippo mouth," Bozzi tells USA Today of Tuesday's encounter. "I saw that he was more timid and he was backing down, so that's why I knew I had the advantage." But "I was frightened when I had it in [the bin], because it was so powerful," he adds, per WESH. "I didn't expect that." With the gator's tail still visible whipping back and forth, Bozzi lifted the bin upright, trapping the gator inside—and generating applause. He then wheeled the container across the street and down an embankment to a retention pond and let the gator slip out.

Social media users reacted with awe. One remarked that this was a Florida man that Floridians could be proud of. Another noted he completed the capture in sandals and socks. But Bozzi says he doesn't feel like a hero. "The only thing that came to my mind was to protect my kids and the other children outside," he tells USA Today. "I feel like I was just doing what I was supposed to do at the time to make me feel more comfortable." Next time, Bozzi says he'll probably call wildlife rescue. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says residents who do encounter an alligator should not "grab a garbage bin," but instead call the state's gator hotline so a licensed trapper can respond. (More alligator stories.)

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