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11-foot alligator kills boy

Searchers found the body of a 3-year-old boy Saturday near an 11-foot alligator that snatched the child from shallow waters while he played with his brother and a dog.

After about a 20-hour search, a gator trapper found Adam Trevor Binford's body in the water about a mile southwest of where he was last seen. The trapper killed the alligator, found swimming near the body, protecting it from other predators.

"It was obviously an alligator kill," Capt. Jake Ehrhart of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said of the boy's death.

"We're positive this was the alligator involved," Ehrhart said after officials performed a brief necropsy on the 450-pound animal.

As the child's body was loaded into a van to take it to the Medical Examiner's Office in Daytona Beach, rescue workers, trappers and divers, with weariness on their faces, lowered their heads in prayer.

An autopsy was to be performed Monday on the boy's body and a full necropsy will be done on the alligator in Gainesville.

"The boy was not eaten," said Volusia County sheriff's Capt. Randy Burnsed. However, he refused to release details of any injuries the boy suffered.

The child's mother, Lorri Binford, 31, of New Smyrna Beach, told authorities her son was standing in knee-deep water picking flowers for her off lily pads when she heard a large splash and turned around to see her son was gone.

He had been playing with his 8-year-old brother, Evan, and a dog, who were both on shore, when she heard the splash. The boy's parents and other family members spent the night at the lake in a wilderness area about 20 miles northeast of Orlando.

After the boy's body was discovered, Binford's friend, Lorraine Noe of Orlando, said, "She's is pretty much in shock. All she can think about is Adam. She wants her little boy back."

Several times during the nightlong search, the boy's mother walked to the shoreline to talk to her son, Noe said.

"She was letting him know she was not going to leave him until they found him," Noe said.

About 8:10 a.m., three shotgun blasts echoed across the lake and a group of boats sped away from the lakeside command post. The boats returned about a half hour later with the boy and gator.

Authorities had been searching for Adam since about 12:45 p.m. Friday.

Divers from the Sheriff's Office, boats, a helicopter and a body-sniffing dog were used to scour the 3,200-acre lake.

Two alligator trappers searched the lake all night before trapper Curtis Lucas spotted the alligator and the boy. Earlier Saturday, an alligator about 8 feet long was killed, but there was no evidence it was involved in the attack.

State wildlife officers said the family dog may have attracted the gator's attention. Even though gators lay around and act stupid, they can be "lightning quick," warned Lt. Joy Hill, of the Florida Game and Fresh Fish Commission.

Alligators are known to attack small animals and a 3-year-old boy would be about the size of prey large alligators would pounce on, she said.

Capt. Wayne King, who is heading the investigation for the game commission, said alligators often stalk their prey and "come up in an instant and attack it."

The child's mother told authorities she heard the splash and immediately ran into the lake after the boy. She thought it was an alligator attack because the splash was "too big for the little boy to make," Hill said.

There are no signs warning visitors about alligators because, about every body of water in the state has alligators, King said.

Since records began in 1948, there have been 225 alligator attacks, but only seven were fatal, the game commission reports. The last deadly alligator attack in Florida occurred in October 1993.