FORT MYERS, FLa. — A day of swimming with friends left a Florida woman in the hospital over the weekend.
Rescue crews explain she visited a lake in Melbourne Saturday when an 8-foot alligator snagged her.
Officials say the alligator bit her on her thigh and side. Witnesses helped rescue her after the attack.
A witness said they pulled her out and her thigh and her side were open. So then about 30 seconds later I see a gator head pop up.
Ray Simonsen, better known in Southwest Florida as Ray the Trapper, captures alligators for a living. He says staying alert is your best bet to avoid a situation like this. "Anything that can hold water is going to have a gator in it potentially. First and utmost, always be aware of your surroundings. They can be underwater for quite a while. They can hold their breath for quite a while.
He says if you do see a gator on water or land 30 feet is a safe distance."
Ray also says keep in mind it's mating season, so gators are on the move he says don’t be surprised they can pop up anywhere from backyard swimming pools to sidewalks like this one he captured in Collier County Monday.
The attack in Melbourne happened during the day, but Simonsen says watch out for alligators at all times.
Even at night when you’re putting the trash out, look. Carry a flashlight: dusk or dawn.
If you’ve seen alligators in your neighborhood, you can go to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s website to print signs to remind neighbors and visitors to stay safe.