Boy Bitten by Alligator in Florida Lake

Aug. 08--A trapper is on the scene this morning of an alligator attack that injured a 9-year-old boy at a St. Cloud lake.

Greg Workman of the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the trapper is "going to try and eliminate that threat and any other threat in the area," meaning other large gators that appear to have lost their fear of humans.

The boy, identified as James Barney, was bitten while swimming in East Lake Tohopekaliga about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

The boy suffered three superficial bites and was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in stable condition, said St. Cloud spokeswoman Sandra Ramirez. A police officer at the lake Friday morning said an alligator tooth was found in one of the boy's wounds.

The child had been riding his bicycle when he stopped at a spot along Lakefront Park known as Dan Terrell Memorial Point to take a swim in Lake Toho.

St. Cloud officials described the particular area where the boy stopped as a "non-swimming area."

Workman said Thursday that a witness reported seeing a 9-foot alligator. Friday morning he said the trapper hired to find and trap the gator has spotted a similarly sized gator in the area. Workman said it was 8 to 9 feet long and 300 to 500 pounds.

Meanwhile, St. Cloud officials closed the point, a spit of land that extends into the lake, while the investigation is under way. It was not clear when the point or the swimming areas would reopen.

A second alligator attack happened Thursday afternoon when a woman vacationing from Ohio was bit while canoeing on the Hillsborough River near a county park in Thonotosassa.

Andrea Reese, 20, was transported to Tampa General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, said Baryl Martin, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman. She appeared to have been bitten on the thigh and calf, he said.

More than 1.3 million alligators are thought to live in Florida, and gator bites are uncommon.

Alligators rarely bite people for reasons other than food, the FWC reports. Some bites occur because of "accidental collisions," such as if a swimmer bumps into an alligator.

FWC reports 12 people were bitten by alligators in Florida last year. Five of those bites were considered minor, seven were major and none was fatal.

The last fatal alligator bite in Florida occurred in 2007, when Justo Antonio Padron was drowned by a gator in a pond at the Miccosukee Indian Reservation in South Florida.

According to the FWC, Padron was trying to evade police.

Witnesses said Padron disappeared under the water, and authorities later captured two alligators in the pond.

apavuk@tribune.com or 407-420-5735

MCT wire service contributed to this report.

 

 

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