DAPHNE, Ala. (WALA)-- Two women kayaking in well-known gator territory came way too close for comfort with a large reptile Saturday afternoon in Daphne after they were thrown out of their canoes and into the water in Lake Forest.
Connie Adams and Michelle Hartley haven’t known each other for long.
Saturday was only their third time meeting outside of their fitness group, but now they say they’re bonded for life, after Connie risked her life to save Michelle.
“You and I went through hell and we survived it,” said Michelle.
A peaceful day kayaking on Lake Forest turned to horror in an instant after Michelle noticed what she says looked like a stump in the water and then all of a sudden she was knocked out of her canoe.
Connie turned around after hearing her splash into the water and saw a large gator as she tried to pull Michelle into her kayak.
“It's head to its snout was a good two feet,” said Connie.
This time both women were thrust out of Connie’s kayak.
As they tried to swim back to land the gator ended up between them.
“He didn’t know if he wanted to go this way to me or that way to her,” said Connie.
The reptile locked eyes with Michelle as Connie made it out onto a bank.
The women say the stare down lasted between 20 or 30 minutes with Michelle treading water the entire time, trying to keep her capsized kayak between her and the creature floating just a few feet away.
“At this point I was more afraid of drowning than I was of being killed by the gator. My body was hurting so badly from treading water for so long,” said Michelle.
Without a second thought, Connie took off running down the bank and into the water to try and get the gator away from Michelle.
“And the alligator took off after her so fast. She didn't realize it, but they had to turn their heads and go inside because they said the alligator was literally like on top of her back and they just knew that it was going to kill her,” said Michelle.
Connie says she grazed the gator a few times.
Michelle swam as fast as she could back to land where someone threw her a rope and the gator finally disappeared below the surface.
“He was just kinda guarding his territory. You know, I don't think he was hungry. He could have had a snack that day if he wanted one," said Connie.
Both women say it’s been hard to grasp that this actually happened to them and how lucky they are.
They’re looking for anyone who might have recorded the encounter so they can see it for themselves.