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Search called off for alligator that attacked elderly woman

Florida wildlife officials gave up the search Thursday for an alligator that attacked a 90-year old woman and nearly severed her leg, which doctors had to amputate.

Longtime resident Margaret Webb was walking near her home in a small southwest Florida community Wednesday when an 8-foot-long alligator lunged out of a canal and bit Webb's leg.

A neighbor was driving by and saw the alligator trying to drag Webb into the water, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Gabriela Ferraro said. The man — Dwyane Daniels — pulled out a gun and tried to shoot the gator.

The reptile crawled away and Daniels dialed 911. Webb was airlifted to a Naples hospital, where she is in critical condition.

Ferraro said officers initially thought the alligator had swallowed Webb's leg, but that wasn't the case. Her leg was "barely attached" after the attack and was amputated, Ferraro said.

Officers wanted to find and trap the alligator, she said.

"When a person is bitten, our priority is to remove the suspect alligator," she said.

By Thursday afternoon, however, officials had called off the search, saying it was unlikely the alligator would ever be found.

"There is also a swift current which has likely taken the live, wounded or dead gator miles downstream by now," Ferraro wrote in a news release.

Daniels, the good Samaritan, is an airboat operator in the Everglades and has known Webb his entire life. Residents describe Webb as being "like a grandma" to everyone in the small community.

About five people are bitten each year in Florida by unprovoked alligators, officials said.

Search called off for alligator that attacked elderly woman 09/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 1, 2011 10:25pm]
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