A 20-year-old Uniontown, Ohio, resident on vacation in Florida has received non-life threatening injuries after she was attacked by an alligator while canoeing with a friend. Andrea Reese was attacked by a six-foot alligator which leapt out of the water and bit her on the thighs and calf, reports the USA Today. The alligator attacked happened while Andrea was canoeing in the Hillsborough River at around 1:45 pm on Thursday.
Immediately after Andrea was attacked, her friend, identified as Morgan Fusselman, called 911 for help. The women were spotted by rescuers, who were accompanied by 23-year-old Michael Cole, the manager at Canoe Escape, which rents canoes at the park. Cole had met the arriving paramedics and offered to help them since he knew the area well and also happened to be a strong paddler. They took around 20 minutes to reach the two women after which they began to offer treatment to Andrea.
According to Baryl Martin, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman, the women had rented a canoe from John Sargeant Park situated on U.S. 301, east of Interstate 75. The alligator attack happened unprovoked, nearly 45 minutes after the women had started paddling through the river. Martin also added that the alligator attack happened outside park boundaries.
According to The Tampa Tribune, the exact circumstances of the alligator attack is still not clear. However, it is believed that Andrea’s body was inside the canoe at the time of the attack.
“From all indications, all parts of her body were inside the canoe,” Martin said.
He added that there was no food inside the canoe — something which could have triggered the alligator attack. If the alligator is found, it is likely that it could be killed for causing an unprovoked attack and displaying aggressive behavior. He also called the alligator attack “very uncommon”. Vernon Yates, an animal trapper, told the Tampa Tribune that the alligator attack could have happened if the animal was startled. He says that it could also have been a case of mistaken identity wherein the animal mistook the canoe for food and jumped on to it for an attack. The actual cause of the alligator attack might never be known.
Meanwhile, Reese was offered first aid by paramedics inside the canoe itself. They wrapped her bleeding thigh and paddled back to the park after which she was taken to the Tampa General Hospital for further treatment. She was discharged at about 9 PM after her condition was found to be satisfactory.
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]