March 20, 2024 | Allison Robertson

Alligator Attacks in the United States


Gruesome Alligator Attacks in the US

The state of Florida, where most fatal attacks occur, began keeping records of alligator attacks in 1948. All occurred in the South, where alligators are common in wetlands and tidal marshes.

Here are 45 factual and fatal alligator attacks that have occurred in the US starting with the most recent attacks in 2023.

Alligator Attacks Split Gallery

Fatal Attacks

Before we dive into the details, there are two things to note: Not every attack is fatal, and water isn’t the only danger zone.

Although not everyone loses their lives after being attacked by an alligator, doctors say an alligator’s mouth is one of the dirtiest places imaginable—bacteria thrive there.

A lot of people who initially survive alligator attacks end up passing days later from infections.

Two American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), Florida, USAMatthew Field, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Water Isn’t the Only Danger Zone

You don’t have to be in the water for an alligator to attack. They routinely eat wading birds, or smaller animals that hang out along the shoreline, like raccoons and dogs.

They will also willingly climb up on shore to approach their victims.

An alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in Brazos Bend State Park in Fort Bend CountyLarry D. Moore, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

September 23, 2023

Sabrina Peckman, 41, was a homeless woman who had been previously apprehended for trespassing on wetland property only two months before she was attacked.

She didn’t learn her lesson, and her consequences were fatal.

American alligator in the Green Cay wetlandsRhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

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Sabrina Peckman

Peckman’s body was found in an irrigation canal in Largo, Florida, when a witness spotted a 14-foot-long alligator with a human torso clenched in its jaws.

A landscape of Taylor Lake Park with the lake to the left and trees to the rightDrewpiter, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

July 4, 2023

Holly Jenkins, aged 69, was walking her dogs in her neighborhood of Spanish Wells in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina when she was attacked by an alligator.

The alligator didn’t just attack and let go, though.

Broad Creek from Cross-Island Parkway, Hilton Head Island, South CarolinaKen Lund, Flickr

Holly Jenkins

First responders were not able to immediately reach Jenkins because the alligator had crawled out of the water and was “guarding” her unalive body.

Several hours later, the alligator was euthanized and the woman’s body was retrieved.

Front view of a Alligator crossing road in South CarolinaGareth Rasberry, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

February 20, 2023

Gloria Serge, was an 85-year-old woman who was walking her dog next to a pond at the Spanish Lakes Fairways retirement community in Fort Pierce, Florida when an alligator emerged from the water and attacked her dog.

As most pet owners would, she impulsively tried to protect her dog.

The Fort Pierce City Marina is a publicly owned and operated marina that features a state of the art dock system, located on Florida’s Treasure Coast in historic downtown Fort PierceJonathanPuello, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Gloria Serge

Serge tried to save her dog, which only turned the alligator’s focus onto her. Unfortunately, she lost her life and her dog survived.

Alligator At The Central Florida Zoo In Sanford, FloridaJamie41, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

August 15, 2022

Nancy Becker, aged 88, was a victim of an alligator attack in her own backyard in her gated community in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Her body was discovered while it was being guarded by the 10-foot-long alligator.

Landscape photo of Bluffton in South CarolinaMike Tilley, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

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July 15, 2022

Rose Marie Wiegand, another elderly woman aged 80, was attacked by two alligators when she fell into a pond along a golf course in Englewood, Florida.

Two alligators on the golf courseboxer_bob, Flickr

June 24, 2022

Micheal Burstein, aged 75, was tragically dragged into a pond in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by an alligator. His body was later recovered and it was determined that he drowned.

Landscape Photo of North Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaDavid R. Tribble, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

May 31, 2022

Sean McGuinness, aged 47, often dipped into an alligator-infested lake at John S. Taylor Park in Largo, Florida, in search of flying discs from a nearby disc golf course. He would collect the discs and resell them.

Then one evening he went in and did not come back out.

Foot Bridge At John S Taylor Park Largo Florida July 28, 2017Philipp Michel Reichold, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sean McGuinness

Around 8:00am, a person walking their dog found his dismembered body along the shoreline with three of his limbs missing.

Authorities believed the man went into the lake sometime during the night as his body did not appear to have been in the water for long.

Head of alligator in Taylor Lake, Largo, FloridaPhilipp Michel Reichold, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

August 30, 2021

Timothy Satterlee, aged 71, was attacked in floodwaters of Hurricane Ida near the city of Slidell, Louisiana.

The man’s wife witnessed the 12-foot-long alligator bite his arm off before dragging him away to his demise.

Flooded docks at marina in Slidell, LouisianaChristine Ho, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Satterlee Attack

The alligator believed to have attacked Satterlee was captured and euthanized a few weeks later. Human remains were found in its stomach.

Although Louisianna has approximately 1.5 million alligators, this was their only known fatal alligator attack.

Alligator, Honey Island Swamp, Louisiana, USAPaul Mannix, Flickr

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May 1, 2020

Cynthia Covert, aged 58, was pulled underwater and drowned by an alligator in a pond behind her home near Salt Cedar Lane, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Landscape Photo of Kiawah Island in South Carolina USAolekinderhook, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

August 20, 2018

Cassandra Cline, was 45 years old when she was dragged to her demise while walking her dog near a golf course in the gated community of Sea Pines in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Witnesses described the brutal attack.

Alligator head coming out of water in Sea Pines Forest Preserve, SCKyle Dickson, Flickr

Cassandra Cline

Witnesses reported seeing the woman trying to protect her dog when the alligator suddenly turned on her and forcibly pulled her into the lagoon to her demise.

The dog was unharmed.

Alligator coming out of water in Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton HeadDan Perry, Flickr

June 8, 2018

Shizuka Matsuki, aged 47, was dragged to her demise and then dismembered by an alligator, while walking her dogs at Silver Lake Rotary Nature Park in Davie, Florida.

A large adult American alligator in Florida, USAcuatrok77, Flickr

July 29, 2016

Bonnie Walker, was 90-years-old when she was attacked by an alligator near a pond close to Brookdale Senior Living Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

Her body was later recovered, and was apaprently difficult to see.

Large male Alligator coming out of waterSavannah River Site, Flickr

Bonny Walker

Walker’s brutally attacked body was found along the pond’s shore hours later, and the coroner concluded she passed from “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries”.

Wild American alligator at Congaree Creek Heritage PreserveHunter Desportes, Flickr

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June 14, 2016

Lane Graves was a two-year-old boy who lost his life after being dragged by a large 4-7 foot long underwater in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Florida.

His parents jumped in immediately to save him.

Landscape Photo of Seven seas Lagoon, Florida, USARaman Patel, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Lane Graves

The toddler’s parents tried everything they could to rescue him but then his father was attacked by a second alligator.

The boy’s body was found nearby the next day.

Florida alligator, A large adult American alligator's weight and length is 800 pounds (360 kg) and 13 feet (4.0 m) longcuatrok77, Flickr

June 5, 2016

The dismembered body of 72-year-old Richard Zachary Taylor, was found in the mouth of an alligator near Lake Hunter in Lakeland, Florida.

His body was already decomposing, suggesting he had been in the water a couple days, or longer.

Landscape Picture of the Lakeland Skyline looking over Lake MortonButter142, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Richard Zachary Taylor

A trapper caught the alligator, and it was taken care of. The rest of Taylor’s body parts were found in the alligator’s stomach.

Further search ensued for other alligators, but no more were caught.

Alligator coming in a swamp, Circle B Bar Reserve - Lakeland, FLmbarrison, Flickr

November 13, 2015

22-year-old Matthew Riggins’ body was recovered by divers in a pond in Micco, Florida Barefoot Bay community ten days after he was reported missing.

But that’s not all.

Florida alligator, A large adult American alligator's weight and length is 800 pounds (360 kg) and 13 feet (4.0 m) longcuatrok77, Flickr

Matthew Riggins

The young man had been burglarizing homes and harassing people in the area in the weeks before he was attacked, and partially eaten, by an 11-foot alligator.

Locals expressed an “uneasy sense of relief” that the man would no longer be returning.

Florida alligator, A large adult American alligator's weight and length is 800 pounds (360 kg) and 13 feet (4.0 m) longcuatrok77, Flickr

October 19, 2015

James Okkerse, aged 62, was attacked by a 12-foot alligator when he was snorkeling at Blue Spring State Park near Orange City, Florida.

His body was ripped apart, and he did not survive.

Madison Blue Springs State Park, Madison County, FloridaMichael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

July 4, 2015

28-year-old Tommie Woodward, made a silly mistake that cost him his life.

After an 11-foot alligator appeared at Burkart's Marina in Orange, Texas, bystanders were told to stay out of the water.

But Woodward didn’t listen.

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) photographed in Chambers Co., TexasWilafa, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Tommie Woodward

Woodward mocked the alligator, and jumped into the water not far from the deadly creature and he was immediately pulled underwater.

His body was later found with severe trauma to the chest.

This was the first recorded fatal alligator attack in Texas since 1836.

Large male alligator in a swampU.S. Geological Survey, Flickr

November 13, 2007

Justo Padron, a 36-year-old man was fleeing authorities when he jumped into a retention pond beside the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center near Miami and was attacked by a 9-foot alligator.

He did not survive.

The 10 foot long alpha male alligator sunning itself in the waters of the EvergladesChris Devers, Flickr

October 5, 2007

83-year-old Gwen Williams, was a Canadian woman who was house sitting for her daughter at The Landings on Skidaway Island, east of Savannah, Georgia when her body was found floating in a lagoon 500 feet behind her daughter’s home.

The search continued, though.

Landscape Photo of Skidaway Island GeorgiaG. DAWSON, Flickr

Gwen Williams

The woman’s body was discovered, but was missing limbs. A search continued which resulted in the capture and euthanizing of the alligator.

Autopsy results, along with necropsy of an alligator, determined that she was attacked and partially eaten by an 8-foot alligator.

Alligator in a pond, Savannah Wildlife Refuge, Georgia USADizzy Girl, Flickr

May 14, 2006

Annemarie Campbell was 23 years old when she was attacked by an alligator in a springhead at Juniper Wayside Park in Florida.

It was a traumatizing experience for her friends.

American Alligator - Alligator mississippiensis, Everglades National Park, Homestead, Floridajudygva, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Annemarie Campbell

Campbell had been attacked while snorkeling, and her friends and relatives pulled her lifeless body out of the 12-foot-long, 407-pound alligator’s mouth after an awful struggle.

The alligator was trapped and euthanized.

Alligator near water plantRene Ferrer, Pexels

May 14, 2006

On the same day, also in Florida, parts 43-year-old Judy W. Cooper’s body were found in a canal in Pinellas County.

She had been in the water for about three days.

Young alligator, Alligator mississippiensis Sawgrass Lake ParkSharpj99, Flickr

Judy W. Cooper

Autopsy reports determined she was fatally attacked by an alligator. A search ensued and an 8-foot alligator was captured. Her arm and hand were found in its stomach.

Juvenile Florida alligator at Sawgrass Lake ParkDixieHwy, Flickr

May 10, 2008

28-year-old Yovy Suarez Jiménez’s dismembered body was found floating in a canal between Markham County Park and State Road 84 in Sunrise, Florida.

She was known to jog in the area frequently.

Large alligator hidden in the grassEduardo Valdes, Pexels

Yovy Suarez Jiménez

Jiménez was attacked by a 9-foot-long alligator while jogging the previous evening, and dragged into the water where it tore her apart.

Close up Photo of The American alligator headBernard Spragg. NZ, Flickr

July 15, 2005

Kevin Albert Murray, aged 41, lost his life while swimming in the Apollo waterway in Port Charlotte, Florida. He was attacked by a 12-foot-long alligator.

Landscape Photo of Port Charlotte beach areaBrian Whitmarsh, Flickr

March 15, 2005

A fisherman discovered 56-year-old Don Owen’s body about 12 miles from his Lakeland, Florida home. He had been missing since March 9.

Trappers later caught an 9-foot-long alligator and recovered some of Owen's body parts.

Close-up Photo of a Alligator in Circle B Bar Reserve - Lakeland, FLmbarrison, Flickr

September 26, 2004

20-year-old Michelle Reeves, was swimming in a retention pond at Lee Memorial Health Park in Lee County, Florida when she was fatally attacked by a 7-foot-long alligator.

Out of the Depths Alligator, La Chua Trail Paynes Prairie Preserve State ParkPhil's 1stPix, Flickr

June 21, 2004

Janie Melsek, 54, was attacked by a 12-foot-long alligator while working on landscaping along Poinciana Circle Sanibel, Florida.

She managed to escape, and survive—or so she thought.

Giant Gator in the Grass, La Chua Trail Paynes Prairie Preserve State ParkPhil's 1stPix, Flickr

Janie Melsek

Melsek initially survived the attack, but sadly, she passed during surgery from an infection that acquired after being in the water with open wounds for too long.

Alligator resting, Big Cypress National Preserve, Floridaolekinderhook, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

June 18, 2003

12-year-old Brian Griffin was swimming in the Dead River near a boat ramp when he was fatally attacked by a 10-foot-long alligator.

His friends watched in horror as his body was thrashed around before being pulled underwater.

A close up of the alligator, clear water in front, trees in backgroundMark Mathosian, Flickr

September 11, 2001

Robert Steele was an 81-year-old man who was walking his dog on a trail between two wetlands near the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, Florida when he was attacked by an alligator.

His leg was bitten off below the knee and he lost too much blood to survive.

Roadside American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) along the park road to Flamingo, FLAdam Fagen, Flickr

June 23, 2001

A two-year-old girl named Alexandria Murphy wandered away from her fenced back yard on Lake Cannon in Winter Haven, Florida.

She was fatally attacked by an alligator only 700 feet from her home.

Florida alligator, A large adult American alligator's weight and length is 800 pounds (360 kg) and 13 feet (4.0 m) longcuatrok77, Flickr

May 4, 2001

70-year-old Samuel Wetmore was suffering from dementia when he wandered from his home in Sarasota County, Florida.

He was fatally attacked in a pond not far from home, by an 8-foot-long alligator.

Alligator in Myakka River State Park. Sarasota County, FloridaJim Mullhaupt, Flickr

March 21, 1997

Three-year-old, Adam Binford had wandered outside a roped-off area in Lake Ashby, Volusia County, Florida.

In only minutes, his family’s lives changed forever.

View from the Lake Ashby Boardwalk TrailSelfieCity, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Adam Binford

Only a mere moment after crossing the fence, little Adam was attacked by an 11-foot alligator. His family reported having only seconds to respond.

The alligator held the little boy’s lifeless body for 20 long hours before wildlife officials stepped in and shot the alligator.

An American alligator swims in Everglades National Park, FloridaU.S. Department of Agriculture, flickr

October 3, 1993

Grace Eberhart, aged 70, was attacked by alligator at Lake Serenity in Florida. The alligator got ahold of her by her neck and head and thrashed her around, breaking her neck, before it let go and fled under water.

Close-up Photo if American Alligator headDjngsf, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

June 19, 1993

Bradley Weidenhamer, was only ten years old when he was fatally attacked while wading into the Loxahatchee River at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Martin County, Florida.

It was an awful experience with many witnesses.

Landscape Photo of Loxahatchee-River-Backwaters-from-Jupiter-FloridaKim Seng, Flickr

Bradley Weidenhamer

Young Bradley was on a canoe-trip with his Little League team when downed trees blocked the river. The adults stopped to move the trees, and the children played in shallow waters close by.

An extremely large American alligator near the exit of the wildlife drivejpellgen, Flickr

Bradley Weidenhamer Cont’d

Only a few moments after leaving his canoe, a large alligator grabbed Bradley by the head and pulled him underwater.

His group used their paddles to beat on the alligator until it let go, but unfortunately the boy had already passed from severe head and neck injuries.

Large alligator lying on the groundEduardo Valdes, Pexels

June 4, 1988

Another young tragedy occurred when four-year-old Erin Glover was fatally attacked while walking along the shore of man-made Hidden Lake in Charlotte County, Florida.

Apparently, the 10-foot-long alligator had lost its fear of people after it was being fed by locals.

Large Alligator lying on the ground, green grass and water surroundingFlorida Fish and Wildlife, Flickr

Erin Glover

The alligator grabbed the girl while she was walking her puppy along the shoreline, and refused to give up the body until it was shot by wildlife officials hours later.

Her 9-year-old brother and his friend witnessed the tragic accident.

Florida Alligator Afternoon, Myakka River State Park, Floridamoonjazz, Flickr

July 13, 1987

George Cummings III was 29-years-old when he was fatally attacked by an 11-foot-long alligator while snorkeling in the Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla County, Florida.

Wakulla Springs Archeological and Historic DistrictReweaver33, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

May 4, 1985

27-year-old Paul Mirabito was fatally attacked while diving and harassing small alligators in a canal near West Palm Beach, Florida.

Alligator entering a pond in Green Cay Wetlands in west Palm Beach CountyKenneth Cole Schneider, Flickr

August 6, 1984

An 11-year-old boy named Robert Crespo was swimming in a canal in St. Lucie County, Florida when he was fatally attacked by a 12-foot-long, 550-pound alligator.

Local fishermen and boaters watched in horror as game officers frantically tried to shoot the alligator to save the boy.

American Alligator on the St. Johns River in Cocoa, Florida.Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

September 10, 1978

14-year-old Phillip Rastrelli was fatally attacked while swimming across the Hidden River Canal off Bessie Creek in Martin County, Florida.

Alligator at Pond's Edge, Everglades National ParkSteven Martin, Flickr

September 28, 1977

George Leonard, 52, was fatally attacked by an 8-foot-long alligator while swimming in the Peace River Canal in Charlotte County, Florida.

He survived for three days before succumbing to his injuries.

American Alligator Resting on a Canal Bank,Florida Fish and Wildlife, Flickr

August 16, 1973

16-year-old Sharon Holmes was also fatally attacked while swimming. It was approaching nightfall when Holmes decided to swim from shore to a floating dock, when an 11-foot alligator met her halfway.

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) Tampa, FloridaL'eau Bleue, Flickr

June 1957

Young, nine-year-old Allen Rice had gone missing from his Eau Gallie, Florida home. It was several days before parts of his mutilated body was discovered by the Civil Air Patrol on the banks of Horse Creek.

A nearby alligator was trapped and euthanized, and more of the boy’s body parts were found inside its stomach.

A large male alligator in the act of bellowingFlorida Fish and Wildlife, Flickr

August 1899

Teenager, Delano Wood was only 16-years-old when he was attacked by an alligator while swimming in a creek near Jacksonville, Florida.

He managed to escape the alligator’s jaws, but unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries shortly after making it to shore.

Close-Up Photo of Alligator HeadFlorida Fish and Wildlife, Flickr

April 1836

A settler named Gray B. King from Nashville was traveling with his family and slaves in Texas when he jumped into the water to push free a ferry which had run aground.

He was quickly attacked and pulled under water by an alligator. Neither the animal or the man resurfaced.

Close-up Photo of Alligator in Brazos Bend State ParkTom Haymes, Flickr

August 10, 1734

Jacques du Bois was a blacksmith at Fort St. Jean Baptiste, near Natchitoches, Louisiana. His body was found on the banks of the Cane River.

Autopsy reports determined he was fatally attacked by an alligator.

Alligator on Lake Martin, Terrebonne Parish, Louisianajc.winkler, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1685

A slave, known by the name of Dumesnil, who belonged to French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was tragically and fatally attacked by an alligator while crossing the Colorado River in Texas.

Alligator along the Steve Miller, Flickr

Source: 1, 2, 3


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