A gator who dismembered a woman in a river Saturday couldn’t escape the long arm of the law. Rachael Lilienthal, 37, was swimming in the Wekiva River in central Florida Saturday afternoon when an 8-foot, 9-inch alligator attacked her, biting her arm at least twice and severing it below the elbow, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Lillenthal was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment. Her current medical condition has not been made public.
Just a few hours later, animal control officers captured he alligator involved in the attack. The creature was euthanized Sunday. According to commission officials, it weighed 300 to 350 pounds, far lighter than the 500 pounds the average adult alligator weighs.
Though alligator encounters with humans and their pets are a relatively common occurrence in southern states like Florida and Louisiana, fatal attacks are infrequent. The most recent fatal attack occurred in early July, when a man ignored friends’ warnings and swam in a Texas marina known to contain alligators. Prior to that, the last time an alligator attack was reported was in 2007, when a man fleeing police dove into a retention pond filled with the creatures in West Miami-Dade.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates more than 1.3 million alligators live across all 67 of Florida’s counties. It advises against swimming outside designated swimming areas.