A man defied alligator warnings in Orange, Texas, only to discover what the warnings were for when it was too late. Tommie Woodward, 28, and an unidentified woman, had gone swimming in the bayou early Friday morning despite signs posted warning the public not to.
Once the woman spotted the 11-foot alligator, she told Woodward about it and proceeded to leave the water. Woodward didn’t listen and kept swimming.
Burkart’s Marina employee Michelle Wright had also told the two about the threat in the water.
“Please do not go swimming, there’s a bigger alligator out here. Just please stay out of the water.”
Up until recently, most of the alligators in the water were around four feet long, and kids went swimming with them, according to USA Today. However, the larger one had been spotted two weeks ago, prompting the placement of a sign warning against swimming.
After Woodward allegedly rudely dismissed the alligator, he was almost immediately attacked, and the woman with him screamed, according to KCCI News. Orange County Justice of the Peace Rodney Price recalled what he knew of the incident.
“He removed his shirt, removed his billfold … someone shouted a warning, [he] said ‘blank the alligators,’ and jumped in to the water. [He] almost immediately yelled for help.”
Michelle Wright told reporters about the shocking aftermath of the man’s alligator attack and death.
“I saw his body floating face down. And then he’s out there for a couple of seconds and then he’s dragged back down. And then he comes back up still face down and then he gets pulled down again. And then he just disappears.”
Wright added that she knew the victim and his family, and this was a horror she would never forget. She told the press that Woodward had been drinking prior to his fatal swim, but it hasn’t yet been concluded whether alcohol was a factor in the poor decision leading to the man’s alligator attack.
Man mocks alligators, jumps in water and is killed in Texas: http://t.co/p5z6S84KSN
— CNN International (@cnni) July 4, 2015
Woodward’s death might not have happened if he’d done it during the day though. Alligator expert Arlie Hammonds explained, “If the sun is down, stay out the water. That’s when they’re eating. That’s when they’re hunting.” Texas Parks and Wildlife stated that the deadly lizard “will eat anything it can catch,” and should be treated with caution.
Woodward’s body was found several hours later, and he leaves behind a twin brother.
[Image via Stacy Revere / Getty Images]