Tuesday, May 23, 2006
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Alligator fatally attacks woman near Lake George

Associated Press

An alligator fatally attacked a 23-year-old woman Sunday near Lake George, authorities said.

The woman had been staying at a secluded cabin near a springhead that feeds into the lake, said Marion County Fire-Rescue Capt. Joe Amigliore.

"The people she was staying with came around and found her inside the gator's mouth," Amigliore said. "They jumped into the water and somehow pulled her out of the gator's mouth."

The woman, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her stepfather, who had tried to help her, was treated on the scene for a hand injury, said Amigliore.

The attack occurred near lakeside recreation 7 miles south of Salt Springs, Amigliore said.

Authorities were searching for the alligator Sunday night. A message left on a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission regional spokeswoman's cell phone was not immediately returned.

Salt Springs is about 40 miles southeast of Gainesville.

Meanwhile, Pinellas County authorities said a woman whose body was found Sunday morning in a canal in an Oldsmar subdivision was likely killed by an alligator.

Judy W. Cooper, 43, Dunedin, was found with animal bites that were consistent with an alligator, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Why she was in the area, where wildlife officials said alligators are frequently spotted, was not immediately known.

An autopsy determined that an alligator "did play some part in the victim's death," though the cause of death was pending and the medical examiner's final report will not be released for at least four weeks, sheriff's office said.

Oldsmar is 20 miles north of St. Petersburg.