ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A 10-year-old Orlando-area girl, who fought off an alligator attack, returned to school Friday.
Juliana Ossa felt good, knowing her classmates made greetings cards to welcome her back to school. She even read some to us.
"Sorry you got bit by the alligator. I think you brave."
Brave, for taking on a 9-foot gator.
"The alligator dug it's body into the water, so it could sneak attac,k and then it grabbed my leg," she explained.
Wildlife officers say Ossa was swimming in the shallow end with relatives, when she felt something under the water.
"He was grabbing onto my leg... I was thinking, I gotta get out of this mess!"
She stayed calm though.
"I remembered what they taught me in Gatorland one or two years ago."
That lesson: to block the gator's nostrils so it would have to open its mouth to breathe.
"I put it at the tip of his nose, and it was very fragile, and he had to breathe, so both ways win-win."
After the gator let go of Juliana, she said her step-uncle came and got her out of the water, and that's when she heard another man screaming.
"There was this military guy cursing at the lifeguard, so he could get everyone out of the water," she said.
Last year, a toddler died after being attacked by an alligator at Walt Disney World Resort. Ossa said the same thought went through her mind.
"I don't want anyone else to get hurt by a gator."
She admitted that she was frightened but not by the 9-foot beast.
"I was scared when they were giving me the stitches. I wasn't scared of the alligator."
She had to have about a dozen stitches in her leg, because of the bite.
"I'm feeling really good. I could walk. but couldn't make it through school that long."
With help from her friends, this little girl feels even more empowered.
"Makes me feel appreciated and welcomed back to school."