Human remains were spotted in the mouth of a 13-foot, 8.5-inch alligator on Friday, in a canal just north of the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.
The gator was extracted from the water and “humanely killed,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release, adding that a dive team had also “recovered the remains of a deceased adult from the waterway.”
So far, no details regarding the identity of the victim have been shared, as the investigation is still ongoing. It’s also unclear whether the alligator was directly responsible for the person’s death.
One local resident, Jamarcus Bullard, said he was walking through the area when he witnessed the alligator clamping down on a body. He ran to a nearby fire station to alert authorities.
“I threw a rock at the gator just to see if it was really a gator and like it pulled the body, like it was holding on to the lower part of the torso, and pulled it under the water,” Bullard told WFLA-NBC Tampa.
He added that he’ll have to be more vigilant now, as he typically walks by the canal on his way to work.
Other locals have been feeling on edge since the reported incident. Jennifer Dean said her children often walk by the waterway where the alligator was found, “so it’s really scary,” she told WFLA.
“I would’ve never dreamt that an alligator would be in this area,” said Terri Williams, who was visiting the neighborhood when the incident took place.
Statistically speaking, alligator attacks are fairly uncommon and almost never fatal. There have only been two reports of fatal attacks in Florida so far this year.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that just 10 fatal gator attacks occurred in the southeastern U.S. between 1999 and 2019. During the same period, five times as many people were fatally mauled by dogs, and 12 times as many were hit by lightning.
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