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Old 06-23-03, 08:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
Edwin's Avatar
Join Date: Jul-2002
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,355
Man gets fined for saving women and children from an alligator

I just find this plain silly...

Man lassos alligator on Lake street corner

By Jim Buynak | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted June 22, 2003

TAVARES -- A Lake County man jumped out of his truck Saturday and lassoed a 5-foot-long alligator he said was threatening a woman and four children near Tavares Elementary School.

A state game official issued Michael McCormick a $180 citation for possession of a gator, but he makes no apology.

The Astatula man said he was thinking about last week's fatal gator attack on 12-year-old Bryan Griffin in the nearby Dead River when he decided to rope the reptile.

"My stepdaughter knew Bryan," he said.

"It was such a tragedy. I didn't want to see another one."

Since Wednesday, when a 10-foot gator attacked the boy during a swim, law-enforcement agencies have received many gator calls, including the one Saturday after McCormick roped the reptile at Clifford Street and Rockingham Avenue.

It is in the same neighborhood where Bryan used to live before he moved to Fruitland Park with his father.

McCormick, 36, said he was driving east on Cliffordabout noon when he saw the gator starting to cross the road toward a woman holding two infants and with two children at her side.

"I just pulled over, made a loop with rope and tossed it over him," McCormick said.

He dragged the gator back to the edge of a chain-link fence that surrounds a retention pond at Clifford and Rockingham.

McCormick said he told a friend to call police as he kept the gator corralled near the fence.

"If I thought I was breaking the law, why would I have them call the police?" he asked.

When Tavares police officers arrived, they had McCormick cut the rope holding the gator.

"I cut it about two feet from his head, and it crawled back under the fence and into the pond," McCormick said.

Police then called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

When game Officer Monty Hinkle arrived, he took statements from McCormick and the police officers and then issued the ticket.

Hinkle said he understood McCormick's intentions but that he had no choice but to issue the citation.

Hinkle then called for a trapper to catch the gator that had been set free just minutes before.

A second alligator seen in the pond will be trapped, too, Hinkle said.

Bait traps were set up Saturday afternoon, but the gators were still in the pond later.

Joy Hill, a fish andwildlife commission spokeswoman, said McCormick should have directed his efforts to get the woman and children out of the way, not the gator.

Hill said her office has been "inundated" with calls since Wednesday's fatal attack and she expects the increase in calls to continue "for months."

But she added: "People can't be taking this in their own hands. We're just going to end up with more people getting bitten and injured."

Many of the documented alligator attacks are a result of people mishandling the reptiles, she said.

"In as much time as it would take somebody to catch and subdue an alligator, it would be much quicker to call 911," she said.

"Someone is going to respond."

McCormick disagreed.

"They did everything right on the Dead River the other night," he said. "They called."

McCormick said he hadn't decided whether to pay the $180 fine or take his case to court, but he said he had no qualms about what he would do if he saw another alligator he thought was threatening.

"I'd do it again," he said, tears welling in his eyes.

"I have two young boys of my own, and I don't want to see another child killed."

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