VALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) – A 29-year-old woman, who was known to swim in a Valrico retention pond, was fatally attacked by an alligator this weekend, her family told 8 On Your Side.
The family did not want to comment further, other than to say they are “in grief.”
A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson confirmed a body was recovered Sunday at the retention pond across from the Landings Bar & Grill restaurant and next to the entrance to the River Hills residential area.
“I can tell you that alligators are known to frequent the retention pond where the decedent was located per our Underwater Recovery Team,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is assisting with the investigation.
Trappers responded to the scene and traps remained at the pond Monday.
“You’re at breeding season and basically the females are laying eggs and nesting. It could definitely be a bad situation for someone in the water,” said Chad Matthews, a trapper who works near the retention pond.
Fatal alligator attacks are rare, but the pond is home to a large gator that has become comfortable around people, he said.
“There’s a gator in there that’s probably between eight- and nine-foot, at least a couple years ago. It’s been there for years, as far as I know. I do know that people liked to throw marshmallows and feed the gator,” he said.
The sheriff’s office investigation is ongoing, pending more information from the medical examiner’s office.
“It’s honestly shocking. You guys talking to me is literally the first time I heard of it. They didn’t mention anything in the area,” said Michael Edge, who works at the Tutoring Club nearby.
Children frequently come into his business, and others, nearby.
“I just hope it doesn’t, it doesn’t become, like, a habit. I don’t want more bodies showing up. That would be real scary,” he said.