A 6-year-old Florida boy is fortunate to be alive–and to have practically emerged unscathed–after being attacked by an alligator at the outset of a canoe trip with his father at Boynton Beach. The alligator chomped down on Joey Welsh’s right arm Friday after the boy had tripped and stumbled into the shallow water.

Joseph Welsh heard his son’s “bloodcurdling” screams and ran into the water. He carefully clutched his son with one arm and used his other fist to pound the reptile on the head.

“It was about waist deep,” he explained to WSVN TV. “I had my son like this here, because I didn’t want to play tug-of-war with the alligator and get his arm ripped off. “So while I’m doing that I started punching the alligator on top of the head as hard as I could.”

However, it wasn’t until a Good Samaritan, who kicked the alligator in the stomach area, that the reptile released its grip.

Joey Welsh was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was found to have suffered only minor injuries.

Jackie Welsh, Joey’s mother, told the news station that an angel must have been watching over her son.

“Why my son has an arm today,” she said. “Why he doesn’t have puncture marks. It’s a miracle.”

State wildlife officials captured and killed the alligator.