A Florida man got a horrifying surprise on Friday as he was heading to a job interview when he spotted a gargantuan alligator in a canal with a human body in its mouth, acting quickly to record it on his phone before running to a nearby fire station for help.
It’s not a sight that one would normally be prepared for but something that is always a possibility in a state that is veritably crawling with the carnivorous reptiles that could be lurking in virtually any body of water, this one in Largo, a tranquil city in the Tampa Bay area where it claimed its victim in a residential area near Ridgecrest Park.
“I never thought I’d see one out here,” said Jamarcus Bullard. “I thought it would be in the swamps and all that, but it was a big gator out here in our water.”
“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,” he said.
When authorities responded, they were able to locate the gator, a massive beast that was over 13 feet long, and pulled it from the water with the assistance of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with divers also making the grim discovery of the victim.
“Throughout the course of the investigation, and with the assistance of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), a 13-foot, 8.5-inch male alligator was humanely killed and removed from the waterway. Deputies assigned to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team also recovered the remains of a deceased adult from the waterway,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
“They put a rope around its neck and put it on a pully of a truck,” Bullard said of the struggle to capture the alligator. “They were reeling it in, but it started to pull the truck in the water so the guy he’s just like we just got to get it out a different way.”
“They spotted it over here on this side and they got this long stick thing, pulled the head out of the water, then they shot it, and once they reeled it all the way out, they stretched it out and measured and then told us it was 13 feet long and they shot it again,” Bullard said.
“A lot of my neighbors were out here and they’re the ones that told me about the gator,” Jennifer Dean, an area resident told Spectrum News. “While we were standing here we heard a shot, I assume they killed the gator.”
(Video: YouTube/Fox 13 Tampa Bay)
The medical examiner’s office identified the remains as 41-year-old Sabrina Peckham, a homeless woman who was arrested in July, “for trespassing onto county wetland just half a mile from where she was found dead Friday, court records show,” the New York Post reported. “Peckman ignored posted signage warning against unlaw entry. After pleading no contest to the misdemeanor, she was released from the county on Sept. 8 and was ordered to $500.”
“Hi, my name is Breauna Dorris and I’m fundraising for the sudden, tragic loss of my mother Sabrina Peckham. Sabrina lost her life suddenly after being attacked by a 13-foot alligator. Sabrina was loved by many and we expected many many more years with her. Our family is in shambles trying to cope with this kind of loss. Sabrina only being 41 and homeless at the time had no funeral or death arrangements set up. We will be using the funds raised for crematory expenses and laying her to rest in our family plot,” the victim’s daughter wrote on a GoFundMe page that she set up to help pay for funeral expenses for her mom.
Peckham’s death occurred in the vicinity of another alligator-related fatality last year when a 47-year-old man’s body was fished out of the water where he was searching for frisbees in a lake next to a golf course. Authorities determined that he drowned after an encounter with a gator despite warning signs being posted in the area.
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