Searchers found the body of a 3-year-old boy Saturday in a lake, being guarded by the 11-foot alligator believed to have snatched him while he played in shallow water with his brother and their dog.
The lake has no signs warning visitors about alligators because nearly every body of water in Florida has the big reptiles, wildlife officials said.
Authorities had been searching the 3,200-acre lake for Adam Trevor Binford since early Friday afternoon.
A state-licensed “nuisance gator” trapper found Adam’s body about a mile from the spot where he was last seen. The trapper killed the 450-pound gator, which was swimming near the body to protect it from other predators.
“It was obviously an alligator kill,” said Capt. Jake Ehrhart of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. “We’re positive this was the alligator involved” “The boy was not eaten,” said Volusia County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Randy Burnsed. However, he refused to release details.
Adam’s mother, Lorri Binford, 31, of New Smyrna Beach, told authorities he had been standing in knee-deep water picking water lilies for her. She heard a splash but when she turned around her son was gone.
She thought it was an alligator attack because the splash was “too big for the little boy to make,” said Lt. Joy Hill of the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission.
The dog and Adam’s 8-year-old brother were both on shore. The older brother apparently saw nothing of the attack.
Alligators prey on small animals and a 3-year-old boy would be about the size of prey a large alligator would attack, Hill said. The gators can be “lightning quick,” she warned.
Although once listed as an endangered species, officials estimate there now are one million of them in Florida.
Since record-keeping began in 1948, there have been 225 alligator attacks but only seven were fatal, the game commission said. The last deadly attack was in October 1993, when a 70-year-old woman was found with alligator bites in Lake Serenity, in Sumter County.