Florida officials recently responded to what may have been a fatal alligator attack. According to local NBC-Affiliate WFLA, on Friday, September 23, Jamarcus Bullard spotted a large alligator in a Pinellas County canal, near Tampa Bay. Bullard was surprised to see the gator in the urban area, but then he saw something even more shocking: human remains near the gator.
“I threw a rock at the gator just to see if it was really a gator and it pulled the body,” Bullard told the local media outlet. “It was holding on to the lower part of the torso and pulled it under the water.”
The sighting prompted a multi-agency effort involving the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, officials found and euthanized a 13-foot, 8.5-inch alligator. Crews struggled to pull the giant reptile out of the canal because its weight almost dragged the truck they were using into the water, reports said.
Meanwhile, a dive team recovered the remains of 41-year-old Sabrina Peckham. According to the local Medical Examiner’s Office, the “the manner and cause of death is pending.” In other words, officials don’t conclusively know if the 13-foot gator fatally attacked Peckham, or if she died from other causes and was then scavenged by the gator. Regardless, it’s a deeply tragic incident.
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Though alligator attacks on humans are rare, two fatal incidents have already been confirmed in the U.S. this year. In February, a gator attacked and killed an 85-year-old woman walking her dog in Fort Pierce, Florida. Then, in July, an alligator fatally attacked a 69-year-old woman near a golf course in Hilton Head, South Carolina.