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Alligator Trees A Teen Girl, Forest Service Reopens Swimming Area

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Alligator forced girl to cling to a tree for 45 minutes until deputy arrived and shot the gator.

Freak Creek became more like Nightmare Creek for a 15-year-old when at least one large alligator, possibly multiple gators, forced the central Florida girl to cling to a tree for more than 45 minutes.

According to the girl’s mom in a frantic 911 call, a huge gator tried to get the girl and would not leave from under the tree. The mom also said there were other gators surrounding the girl.

Here’s the initial contact of the 911 call, which in its entirety lasts more than 7 minutes.

The 911 operator begins the call by saying, “911, can you please hold?”

The mom responds, frantic and out of breath, “It’s an emergency, no.”

Operator: “What is the emergency”

Mom: “I’m at Freak Creek, my daughter’s stuck in a frickin’ tree, there’s gators surrounding her. We can’t get her out. Please, she’s 15.”

After about a 30-second pause with no conversation between the two, the mom yelled, “Oh my god, please hurry! Please hurry! You’ve got to find something fast or my kid is going to get attacked! There’s gators on the land and in the water right under her!”

The incident took place on Alexander Springs Creek in the Ocala National Forest at 52 Landing, a primitive camping area and a paddling access point for kayaks and canoes. The spot is locally known an “Freak Creek.” It’s at the end of Forest Service Road 18 near Astor, west of the St. John’s River in Lake County, just northwest of Orlando.

The girl was in the water on a raft when the alligator appeared. While early reports said the girl used a low branch to climb up and cling to a tree, in the 911 call the mom appears to say the girl was at the rope swing. There are several trees at Freak Creek with nailed 2×4 boards used as steps to access a couple of rope swings.

Rope swings at Freak Creek.

According to a Lake County Sheriff’s Department incident report, Deputy Mitch Blackmon arrived to find the girl screaming from up in the tree. The alligator was hissing and not scared by people on the scene, including the deputy, who was armed with his service rifle. The alligator, estimated at 11 feet long, started moving toward Deputy Blackmon, who then fired at its head. The alligator sank and did not surface, and it was presumed dead. While the mother’s 911 call mentioned multiple alligators, the incident report only mentioned the one large alligator shot at by Deputy Blackmon.

A few days after the incident there were reports that a licensed alligator trapper was working the area.

On July 2, three days at the girl was treed by the alligator, a Facebook post to the Freak Creek page said, “yesterday we went swimming there and a gator hook was hung by the 3 steps to left of boat ramp where we all sit at. It was baited with chicken and ready to go… A couple of hours passed and a wildlife trapper came down to check the hook.”

According to the post, the wildlife trapper told them that the road to Freak Creek should have been blocked with cones and a rope, but that someone had thrown them off into the woods.

However, an alert posted on July 2 to the US. Forest Service website at the Ocala National Forest page stated: “52 Landing has been re-opened, but visitors are advised to use caution and observe warning signs in areas alligators may be present.”

Just last month, a woman walking her dog in Broward County, Florida was attacked by a huge alligator and dragged into a pond at Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park in Davie, Fla. Divers found the woman’s body, and her arm was found inside a 12-foot, 6-inch alligator killed by authorities.

Alligators live in all 67 Florida counties, and the state wildlife agency has averaged about 16,000 gator complaints a year for the past 10 years.

 

 

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