Woman's body found in Orange County pond; gator attack dismissed
Witness says victim yelled, 'It bit me!' before vanishing underwater
ORLANDO, Fla. – Sheriff's officials said the body of a woman -- not a teenage boy -- was found in an Orange County pond Thursday morning, a day after a witness reported a person flailing in the water while yelling, "It bit me!"
The Orange County Sheriff's Office said a marine unit discovered the body Thursday morning floating in the pond, which is off Regan Avenue near East Colonial Drive and North Goldenrod Road.
The name and age of the victim have not been released, but Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jeff Williamson said she was a black or Hispanic woman in her late teens to early 20s. There were no signs that a gator attacked the woman, whose body was found about 50 yards offshore, he said.
"We have some idea of who we think it may be," Williamson said. "It may take a few hours to confirm that."
Clothing was found on the shore of the pond, but it's not yet known if it belonged to the woman, who Williamson said lived in the area or had a temporary resided nearby.
The search began around noon Wednesday when Eric Wolfe, who lives nearby, told deputies he saw what he thought was a teenage boy struggling to stay afloat.
Wolfe said he went inside, grabbed his binoculars to see what was going on and called 911.
"(I) had eyes on him the whole time and relayed his position to dispatch, and he went underwater and didn't come up," Wolfe said.
Wolfe said the person was not wearing a shirt and was about 20 yards off the opposite shoreline.
Neighbors said alligators have moved into the pond over the past several years.
"There's four alligators in this lake," Wolfe said. "An 8-foot alligator is usually around where (the teenager) was in, and when he screamed, something bit him, so you can only assume it was an alligator."
Marine units scanned the pond through Wednesday night before resuming early Thursday. Deputies also canvassed the area checking for missing people, but "didn't get any hits," Williamson said.
Recent gator attacks
In June 2016, an alligator snatched and killed a 2-year-old boy who was playing on a beach at a Walt Disney World resort.
Lane Graves died in the attack at the Grand Floridian Resort.
Officials said Lane and his father were on the wet sand of the beach in ankle-deep or less water building a sandcastle when the alligator bit Lane's head as he bent down and pulled him into the water.
Just over a year ago, a 10-year-old girl was attacked by a 9-foot alligator at Moss Park in Orange County.
The FWC said the girl suffered an injury to the front of her knee and several puncture wounds to the back of her knee and lower thigh when the alligator bit her. The girl was able to pry the alligator's mouth open to remove her leg before further injury could occur, according to the incident report.
Monster gators in Central Florida
The FWC uses the term bull gator for alligators over 9 feet long, and each year the agency conducts surveys to see how many bull gators are living in each lake.
[MAP BELOW: Find where monster gators exist in Orlando area]
According to FWC's 2015 survey data, an area of Stick Marsh in northwest Indian River County had the most bull gators. Out of 206 total counted in one trip, 139 of those were over 9 feet long, 68 percent. On another survey trip by FWC, 276 gators were counted, 76 of which were bull gators.
The lake that had the most gators overall was Lake George, located on the St. Johns River. In one survey, FWC counted 2,322 gators, 26 of which were bull gators. At another survey, 2,016 were counted there with 43 bull gators.
Lake Kissimmee came in second for the most gators with 1,935 counted, with 170 bull gators.
As far as Lake Apopka, it, too, was surveyed twice with 1,014 gators with 46 bulls at one time, 788 gators with 21 bulls at another. At Lake Jesup, 1,599 were counted at one time with 52 at 9 feet or larger, and at a second counting, they found 1,151 with 60 big ones.
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