Monday, February 19, 2018
Public safety

10-foot alligator struck, then stuck under car in Largo

LARGO — Why did the alligator cross the road? Authorities can't answer that. But they can say that the attempt did not end well for the gator.

A 10-foot-8-inch, 400-pound alligator became wedged under a car while trying to cross Eighth Avenue SW early Wednesday. Firefighters managed to lift part of the car and free the gator — sort of. Then a trapper took custody of the alligator.

Largo Fire Rescue officials say they've gotten calls before to move alligators from nearby Taylor Lake — but never for one this big.

"We thought it was 3 to 5 feet," said firefighter Doug Dalton, who was in charge of the scene. "But this thing was huge. It was like, 'Okay, everybody better take a step back.' "

The incident took place around 2:45 a.m. A woman was driving east near the 1100 block of Eighth Avenue with her infant daughter when she saw something dart into the road ahead of her. The driver, who was not identified by police, rolled over the obstruction — and got stuck.

Then the woman got out and saw what she had run over. The gator's snout could be seen under the passenger side. It was completely trapped beneath the car.

"There was no way of getting him out without lifting the car," Dalton said. They called in trappers who wrapped the gator's snout closed and roped its neck. It took two hours to free it, and three trappers to lift it up.

"It wasn't fighting at first," Dalton said. "But when we got it out, that's when it started."

The gator appeared to have been bloodied in the crash — not that it mattered, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse.

It was put down later that day.

"Almost every gator the trapper gets is harvested for its meat and hide," Morse said. "That's how they make their money. That's how they get paid."

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