‘The biggest I’ve seen in the wild’: See man get charged by alligator at Florida park

Herald file/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission photo
·2 min read

Most of us Floridians can go through our entire lives without coming face to face with an alligator, even though they’re all over the place.

One particular man, however, cannot say the same. Foster Thorbjornsen told his followers that while out walking near his home on Monday the Seminole man spotted a good-sized alligator floating in a lake about 20 feet from shore.

It was at John S. Taylor Park in Largo — the same place where an alligator killed a man who was looking for a Frisbee last week.

“He was the the biggest alligator I have seen in the wild (8 to 10 feet long),” wrote Thorbjornsen, who obviously wasn’t afraid enough to snap a pic.

The professional photographer said he stopped to take close-ups with his zoom lens, while the animal stared back with “cold, dark, menacing eyes.”

When he momentarily turned his gaze away to check his camera, the reptile “quickly swam to shore and charged at me,” stopping just short of 10 feet away.

“The timing of his charge was deliberate,” wrote Thorbjornsen of the encounter. “He waited for me to turn and look away. It was nerve wracking and intense.”

The New York native says there was a steep embankment and a tree separating him from the animal, which made him feel more secure. Though technically, he wasn’t, as gators are known to be excellent climbers.

Yes. Things could have gone differently, just as they had for 47-year-old Sean Thomas McGuinness, who was killed by a gator at Taylor Park. That animal was reportedly euthanized at the outdoor facility, which has clear “No Swimming” signs posted throughout.

“According to Park Management, McGuinness was known to frequent the park and enter the lake with disregard to the posted ‘No Swimming’ signs,” the Largo Police Department said in a statement.

Every body of water in Florida potentially has an alligator living or visiting there, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says. So always be careful and keep small children and pets at a safe distance.

The Sunshine State usually sees about eight unprovoked alligator bites a year and has had only 26 deaths since 1948, the state reported in 2021.

READ MORE: Alligator hotline: What do if you one is near your home