Man found dead in Largo lake with alligator-related injuries is ID’d; 2 gators captured and killed

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Authorities have identified Sean McGuinness, 47, as the man whose body was spotted near an alligator in the lake of a Largo park Tuesday.

McGuinness was found dead around 8 a.m. Tuesday by a person walking their dog near the shoreline of Taylor Lake in John S. Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave. SW in Largo.

The lake where McGuinness was found is next to a disc golf course, and Largo police believe McGuinness was wading into the lake looking for flying discs in the water when he died.

Investigators initially thought McGuinness had drowned, Officer Forest Rothchild, a spokesperson for the Conservation Commission’s law enforcement wing, told the Times on Tuesday. However, investigators soon determined McGuinness had “suffered injuries related to alligators in the lake,” Largo police said.

A medical examiner has yet to determine McGuinness’ exact cause of death, according to the release from Largo police.

Alligator trappers responded to the lake Tuesday, according to Largo police. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement Wednesday that trappers captured and killed two alligators — one 10 feet long and another 8 feet long.

Preliminary necropsies of the reptiles “revealed no evidence of their involvement with the deceased,” the wildlife commission said. “Efforts are underway to monitor for additional alligators in the area.”

There are “no swimming” signs posted around the park, but park management said McGuinness was known to disregard those, according to police.

Witnesses also told Largo detectives that McGuinness was known to sell the discs he found in the lake. New discs can cost from $20 to $30, according to Charlie Goodpasture, 34, the owner of PureLine Disc Golf in Pinellas Park and a professional disc golfer.

Ken Hostnick, 56, was playing disc golf Tuesday at the park where McGuinness was killed. Hostnick said he didn’t know McGuinness, but he’s aware there are people who try to recover lost discs.

“These are people that are down on their luck,” he said. “Sometimes they dive in the lakes, they’ll pull out 40 discs. You may sell them for five bucks apiece, and you may sell them for 10 bucks apiece, depending on the quality.”

Another man retrieving discs was bitten in the face by an alligator at Taylor Lake in 2020. At that time, a state wildlife spokesperson said there had been no other reported alligator attacks in the park for at least 10 years.

Alligators are everywhere in Florida, swimming and sunning themselves around lakes, retention ponds, rivers and golf greens. But attacks are rare. As of last November, no confirmed fatal alligator bites had been documented in the state since 2019, according to the Conservation Commission.

People should keep their distance from alligators and not feed them, the state says. Alligators’ mating season stretches through May and June.

Anyone worried about a specific gator is urged to call the Conservation Commission’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286.

Times Staff Writers Zachary T. Sampson, Natalie Weber and Josh Fiallo contributed to this report.