Tags: james okkerse | swimmer | killed | alligator

James Okkerse: 12-Foot Alligator Kills Swimmer in Florida State Park

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By    |   Monday, 26 Oct 2015 06:00 AM

James Okkerse, a swimmer who was found face-down at Blue Spring State Park in Florida this week, was killed by a 12-foot alligator, a medical examiner ruled.

Friends initially reported 61-year-old Okkerse, of DeBary, Florida, missing before his body was pulled from the swimming area of Blue Spring on Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported. County officials told the newspaper that Okkerse had wounds that appeared consistent with an alligator attack.

The day before the attack, visitors reported two sightings of a 12-foot alligator at the park, but Russell Anen, 73, said that he and Okkerse were never told about sightings when they arrived at the park. Anen told the Sentinel that he and Okkerse swam together before the attack.

"There should be more information put out there for keeping the park in control rather than things getting out of hand," he said. "We're not foolish people. We should have been cautioned, and we probably would have asked for the size of the alligator."

Frances Lommerse, Okkerse's cousin, told WFTV that he was a caring person and the family has received a lot of support since the incident.

"He would take his mother to Planet Fitness, take her walking," Lommerse told the television station. "They both stayed active that way . . . We’ve had a lot of people from the church call. The priest has been here. The doctors have been calling. Everybody is taking good care of us."

The Orlando Sentinel wrote that the alligator was found and killed. Swimming has since resumed at Blue Spring.

"We love the spring and to come here and have something like that happen it really is upsetting," Haley Cowlong told WFTV. "It's a risk that you take when you, you know, have this as your hobby."

Jennifer Burroughs told the Sentinel that she was afraid to go to the park at first but said her family is now being more careful in the water.

"We booked it, we're doing it, we're committed," Burroughs told the newspaper. "I feel like I'm going to be on the lookout now. I know what happened, so I'm going to be looking out."

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James Okkerse, a swimmer who was found face-down at Blue Spring State Park in Florida this week, was killed by a 12-foot alligator, a medical examiner ruled.
james okkerse, swimmer, killed, alligator
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2015-00-26
Monday, 26 Oct 2015 06:00 AM
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