I've never been there, but stories like this give the impression that Lakeland FL must really be a messed up place..
LAKELAND -- A man who was attacked by an alligator this morning was naked and smoking crack at the time, Polk County deputies who rescued him said today.
The alligator had the man in his jaws when deputies arrived at Lake Parker in Lakeland about 4 a.m. today. They were called by nearby residents who reported hearing a man yelling for help.
The first deputy on the scene was unable to free the man, Adrian J. Apgar, from the alligator's mouth. It wasn't until 3 or 4 of them were in chest-deep water that they were able to pull him free after the tug-of-war.
Apgar, 45, of Polk City, suffered a broken arm, partially amputated left arm and trauma to his left leg. Doctors are trying to reattach the arm at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where was listed in critical condition.
"We don't know whether he'll make it or not," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
According to a news release from the Polk Sheriff's Office, "The very dark conditions and risk of injuring the victim made shooting the alligator impossible, leaving deputies to contend with their own safety after becoming exhausted in waist deep mud. All deputies made it out of the water without injury."
State fish and wildlife officials captured an 11-foot alligator that they think was the biter.
Deputy Billy Osborne first heard the man's cries for help but couldn't see him through the thick brush and dark sky.
"'I have two broken arms and an alligator's got me pinned. I can't move. Please help me,'" the Polk County deputy sheriff related at a news conference today.
As Osborne listened, he followed the voice through more than 20 yards of brush in Lake Parker's murky, chest-deep water about 4 a.m.
Then he saw them: a naked man crouched down in the jaws of an alligator amidst thick cattails in bloodied water.
Other deputies pursued, following the man's cries, Osborne's voice and the sounds of the alligator thrashing around in the water.
Osborne grabbed onto the man's arm and tried to pull him free.
"We were pretty much playing tug-of-war," Osborne, 26, said.
After about 30 seconds, the alligator released the man.
Judd said Apgar told deputies he was smoking crack-cocaine at the adjacent park, but it was unclear why he was naked or why he was attacked by the alligator.
No one answered the door of Apgar's home in rural community and neighbors knew little about him.