Florida's Alligator Encounters Have Led to a Loss of Limbs, but Rarely Death
Alligator attacks in Florida are few and far between.
Although deadly alligator attacks are rare, 24 fatal incidents have occured in Florida since 1948.
The most recent fatality, at a Disney hotel in Orlando Tuesday, involved a 2-year-old boy.
While alligators may be deadly predators, they generally stay away from humans, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Nick Wiley, the executive director of the organization, told USA Today: “People – even small people – are not their typical prey.” He believes the gator inside the Disney resort may have gotten the toddler confused with a dog or a raccoon.
Only Louisiana has more instances of gator attacks than Florida.
InsideEdition.com take a look at some recent attacks in the Sunshine State.
1973 - Florida’s First Fatal Attack
While Florida officials began documenting fatal alligator attacks in 1948, the first fatality did not occur until 1973. Sharon Holmes, 16, was swimming at dusk in a Sarasota County lake when a gator struck.
Holmes was devoured by the animal, which was later shot dead by authorities. Parts of the victim were found inside the belly of the beast. The gator had just moved into the lake and was reportedly fed by previous visitors to in the area, According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
2007 – Man Tries to Elude Police, Gets Eaten
In November 2007, a Miami man was trying to elude police by swimming in a pond at the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. Witnesses say 36-year-old Justo Antonio Padron then disappeared from view and went underwater.
His body was later recovered at the bottom of the pond by divers, who also discovered two alligators swimming in the reservoir. A 9-foot-4-inch gator is believed to be responsible for Padron’s death.
Swimmer’s Arm is Bitten Off in Alligator Encounter
In August 2015, Rachael Lilenthal, 37, was swimming in a Florida river near Orlando when her right arm was suddenly chewed off by a monstrous alligator.
"I was not aware that it was an alligator at first," she told Inside Edition in September. "Sure enough, when it clamped my arm, a big old gator’s head sitting right there, that was most definitely an alligator."
She was rescued by Casey Spencer and his girlfriend Krista Karlsen, who were kayaking nearby.
Karlsen told IE: "I yelled at Casey to start hitting the alligator. He started hitting it with his paddle." It worked – the alligator let Lilienthal go.
"The gator did take off with my arm. I thought, 'Thank God he's gone,' and then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, he's gone with my arm.' That's when I started to panic," Lilienthal said.
Florida Has Its First Fatality From a Gator Attack in 8 Years
For the first time since 2007, the state had its first fatality from a gator encounter in October 2015.
James Okkerse, 61, was snorkeling in Blue Spring Run in Orange City when he was attacked and killed by a 12-and-a-half-foot gator.
The animal was later captured and killed.
Alligator Bites Off Man's Arm During A Mental Breakdown That Led Him Into Lake: Cops
In May 2016, a Florida man suffering from a reported mental breakdown lost his arm when he came face to face with an alligator.
Officials said they were called to a Lakeland home in response to 21-year-old Jesse Kinsinger's "psychological issues."
His mom, Rena Tomlin, had needed assistance enacting the Baker's Act, a Florida statute that specifies an individual can be involuntarily subjected to a mental health evaluation for up to three days if he or she becomes a harm to him or herself, officials explained.
Sgt. Gary Gross of the Lakeland Police Department told InsideEdition.com that even though Tomlin never went into detail about Kinsinger's condition, his "incoherent babbling" was something she had been reportedly dealing with. Kinsinger had reportedly suffered PTSD following a home invasion two years ago.
As cops arrived on the scene, Gross said Kinsinger "bolted" from the apartment complex and into a wooded area with a lake nearby: "He knew that law enforcement were looking for him."
Officers called in helicopters and bloodhounds to help locate the man, but in the hour-long search, he was only spotted twice — once on the opposite side of a lake, and the next time, he was back on the shoreline near his apartment.
When officers spotted him, Gross said "they discovered him laying on the shoreline with three-fourths of his left arm missing from an apparent alligator incident."
Gross said it appeared that his hand, as well as six or seven inches of his arm, were torn right off.
It was immediately clear to officers on the scene that it was the result of an alligator bite, although the injury appeared tame enough to be a warning, rather than an attack: "Mating season is May to June. When you get near a nest, it doesn't take much to get a defensive bite back."
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