A 28-year-old Texas man was fatally attacked by an alligator early Friday morning.
The man, whose identity was not released pending notification of his family, was swimming with a woman in Adams Bayou off Burkart’s Marina in the 1800 block of Mississippi Street when police said a large alligator apparently attacked him.
Allen Burkart owns the marina, a family-friendly place selling beer and hamburgers with a shuffleboard table, and said two of his employees were cleaning up when the man said he was going to jump in the water.
“They were begging with him not to do it,” said Burkart, who is 82 and has owned the marina for 50 years.
He said the alligator, which is about 12 foot long, was spotted in the bayou in recent weeks so he put up a sign: “No Swimming. Alligator.”
But he said the man jumped in anyway, followed by his girlfriend.
“He went under one time, then he hollered at her to get out of the water,” Burkhart said. “Then he pulled him down the second time and that was it. I’ve been here all my life and this is the first time something like this has happened. … I’m still in shock.”
Police were dispatched at about 2:30 a.m., and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and a game warden from Texas Parks and Wildlife searched the area with a boat.
The man was found dead in the water at about 4:30 a.m.
Texas hasn’t had a verified human fatality from an alligator attack in about 200 years. The only documented fatal attack comes from a single written account of an 1836 incident near the mouth of the Trinity in which an alligator attacked and killed a man swimming across the bayou.
Friday’s incident would be the second alligator attack in the region this week. Sunday, a 13-year-old boy and his father were attacked by an alligator at Mac Pond in Chambers County’s Cedar Hill Park. Authorities said an alligator bit 13-year-old Kaleb Hurley on the arm and took him underwater near the bank of the pond, just off Lake Charlotte Road. His father, 42-year-old James Hurley, was also hurt when he ran into the water to save his son.The alligator bit him on the leg, but he was able to kick it until it let him go.
The father and son were flown by Life Flight helicopter ambulance from Bayside Community Hospital to Memorial Hermann Hospitals. The father is being released soon, the family said, but the boy remains in hospital, the family said.
“This has been such a traumatic experience, to say the least, and we hope no one else out there ever has to go through what we have been through these past several days,” the family said in a statement. “Please be sure to research the areas you are visiting thoroughly, especially if they have alligators or other wildlife.”
Unprovoked alligator attacks are rare. But authorities say alligators have been displaced because of the heavy rainfall of the last 45 days, which filled many estuaries. The reptiles are also particularly vigilant right now about protecting their territory because it is currently their breeding and nesting season.