FORT MEADE, Fla. (WFLA) – A man was found dead Thursday morning near an alligator in Polk County, the sheriff’s office says.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says the body of Michael Ford II, 45, was found in a canal on the Mosaic property just off Peeples Road around 7:45 a.m. on Thursday. Deputies say an alligator was spotted near the body.
FWC officials responded to the scene to assist. The gator was shot and killed by FWC and taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office with the man’s body, officials said.
“It’s a large alligator. It was 11 foot, 10 inches long and it weighed approximately 449 pounds,” said Ashley Tyer, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Ford’s hand and foot were found inside the gator’s stomach. An autopsy revealed that Ford had other lacerations and injuries caused by the gator, and his apparent cause of death is drowning, although his final cause and manner of death are pending toxicology.
His body was found in a canal. The gator had “disengaged” from the body by the time officials responded, according to the sheriff’s office.
“The body does look like it had something happen to it related to the alligator,” said Carrie Horstman, with PCSO. “We’re really not at liberty to say much right now. It is possible that the alligator did something to this person either before or after his death.”
A vehicle was towed away from the scene. Law enforcement is working to determine why the man was on Mosaic property.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.