FORT MEADE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida father is searching for answers after his 45-year-old son was found dead inside an alligator’s mouth in Polk County last Thursday.
“I had a feeling it was my son that morning when it came on TV. Strange, but I had the feeling,” said Michael Ford Sr., of Bowling Green, Florida.
Ford last saw his son on Tuesday, June 25 when Michael Ford II showed up at his house. Ford Sr. noted that his son seemed off and was barefoot.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says Ford, of Wauchula, was found in a canal on property owned by the Mosaic Company near Fort Meade on June 27.
The Mosaic employee who found him said the alligator had the man in his mouth, according to the 911 call. When responders arrived, the alligator had disengaged.
Parts of Ford’s body were found inside the 450-pound alligator after it was killed and then examined at the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Investigators have ruled out foul play and say his apparent cause of death was drowning.
The final determination on Ford’s cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results.
“I just wish they’d look deeper,” said Ford Sr. “After I seen everything that’s been going on, I don’t believe it was an alligator.”
Ford Sr. acknowledges his son had a drug problem and had recently been released from jail.
He doesn’t know why his son was on Mosaic property.
“I don’t see him fishing by himself. He’s never done it that I know of. And he swim like a fish,” he said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates there are 1.3 million alligators in Florida. They are found in all 67 counties.
The FWC advises people to be cautious near the water to reduce the risk of conflicts, especially when it is warm outside.
Never feed an alligator and always keep pets on a leash and away from the water’s edge.
If someone is concerned about an alligator, they should call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286), and FWC will dispatch one of our contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation.