Woman Suffers Serious Injuries After Alligator Attack in Florida, Reports Say

Isabel van Brugen
By Isabel van Brugen
May 27, 2019USshare
Woman Suffers Serious Injuries After Alligator Attack in Florida, Reports Say
An undated stock image of a massive 700-pound alligator. (Representational image/Pixabay)

A woman from Florida was left seriously injured after she was attacked by an alligator while swimming in a lake over the Memorial Day weekend, officials said.

Nichole A. Tillman, 26, of Melbourne, Florida, was airlifted to a hospital on May 25 after she was attacked by an 8-foot-long alligator while swimming in Key Lake Wilderness Park, Cocoa.

Eyewitness Dave Nygard, who was in the lake when the alligator attacked Tillman, said the woman had a lucky escape.

“We’re hanging out about waist to chest deep in the lake, next thing you know a girl starts screaming and luckily a couple guys reacted and grab her,” Nygard told ABC News.

He didn’t take her screams for help seriously until he saw her wounds, he explained.

“I thought she was more or less joking around … next thing you know we pull her out and her side and her thigh were open,” he explained.

Shortly afterward, Nygard spotted the head of an alligator emerge from the lake waters.

“So then about 30 seconds later I see a gator head pop up. It was every bit of 8 foot.”

Emergency services rushed to the scene to help the woman, placing her in an ATV before driving her several miles out of the woods to a nearby road, ABC reported.

The victim was later airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne via a medical helicopter.

Brevard County Fire District Chief Thomas Uzel told the ABC Tillman was classified as a “trauma alert” due to her injuries. The bite injuries are significant, but non-life threatening, the rescue service added.

“We have a female who was allegedly bit by an alligator. She was out in the woods, swimming in a lake, from what we understand,” Uzel told the news outlet.

Following the incident, the 8-foot 6-inch alligator was removed from the pond after someone contacted an alligator trapper, and the incident is under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), reported WFTS.

Following the incident, Nygard told ABC although he is shaken, he is thankful as it could have been much worse, as there were around a dozen people swimming in the lake at the time.

“I mean, it’s scary. Just thankful a little kid wasn’t in the lake at the time, because more or less the gator probably would’ve gotten the kid.”

“Several people grabbed towels and shirts and wrapped her side and leg and then they rushed her up here to the [road],” he added.

Alligator attacks in Florida are rare, and fatal attacks are even rarer, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, reported Local10.

Alligators tend to become more active in the spring and summer months as the temperature increases.

The attack was the second incident in 35 years Uzel has had to deal with, he said.

“Usually gators are not intrusive on people. They’re more or less more scared of us than we are of them, so for the gator to come up and—he was curious more or less—so thank goodness we got her out and hopefully she’s doing fine right now,” Nygard added.

“You hear of shark bites, yet we keep going in the ocean. Born and raised in Florida, not going to keep us out of lakes.”

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