Polk County

Victim identified after alligator attack at Lakeland retirement community

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) - An elderly man was rushed to the hospital Monday after being attacked by an alligator in Lakeland.

FWC officials say the attack happened in Cypress Lakes, a large retirement community off U.S. 98 in Lakeland.

According to investigators, 85-year-old George Ihle went into a wooded area behind his house to shoo away some birds when an alligator latched onto his foot and yanked him to the ground.

A man heard his screams and helped get the alligator to let go.

Ihle was taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital by Polk Fire Rescue. He has a serious foot injury but is expected to recover.

FWC confirmed that trappers captured the 9-foot, 9-inch alligator involved in the attack nearby.

"We kept a visual on it the entire time. So based on witnesses that were there when it happened, they kept an eye on the alligator the entire time, as well as myself and other officers, we were able to determine it was the correct alligator," said FWC Spokesperson Ashley Tyer.

Neighbors were certain that the right alligator had been captured.

"They took the shoe, the man's sneaker out of the alligators mouth so they know they got the right one," said neighbor Jane Rickel.

Rickel, who's lived in the community for years said they know alligators are always lurking. "I have some friends that live on a small pond and the alligators in there all the time," she said.

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