A gator killed a Texas man Friday after he ignored written and verbal warning signs and jumped into a bayou in what marks the first fatal alligator attack the state has seen since 1836.
Tommie Woodward, 28, of Orange, Texas, went swimming with an unidentified woman around 2:30 a.m. in Adam’s Bayou despite witness and Burkhart’s Marina employee Michelle Wright’s warning.
“I asked him please do not go swimming, there's a bigger alligator out here, just please stay out of the water,” Wright said, according to KFDM News
Although it is not unusual for children and adults to swim alongside 3 or 4-foot alligators, the bayou posted signs saying “No Swimming Alligators” after spotting an unusually large 10-foot alligator near the marina roughly two weeks ago, according to USA Today
Despite all the warnings, Woodward reportedly mocked the alligator before jumping into the water and attempting to swim. Almost immediately after getting into the bayou, the alligator attacked him.
“Next thing I know this girl is screaming an alligator’s got him, an alligator's got him and I grab a flashlight trying to zoom it over the water, trying to find him,” Wright said, according to KFDM. “The next thing I know, I don't even know how long it was, I saw his body floating face down and then he's up there for a couple seconds and then he gets dragged back down and pulled off.”
Woodward’s body was found around 4:30 a.m. on Friday about half a mile down from where he first entered the water, according to USA Today.
Wright said that she knew Woodward and his family, adding that this tragedy was a moment that she would never forget, according to CNN
. Woodward, along with his twin brother, and just recently moved to the area from St. Louis to work at a nearby shipyard.
According to New York Daily News, the heavy rainfall
over the past 45 days displaced the alligators in the area, causing them to become more territorial during their breeding season.
“Whether it's a speed limit sign on a freeway, a fireworks message, whatever, heed the warning sign, follow that because a failure to heed that can result in a terrible tragedy for your family," Orange County Justice of the Peace Rodney Price said, according to KFDM.
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