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Alligator attacks man diving at Florida amusement park

By Janet DiGiacomo, CNN
  • Man transported to hospital after escaping from gator
  • Victim may have a broken jaw after being bitten around head and neck
  • Alligator was more than 11 feet long
  • Florida
  • Ocala
  • Wildlife

(CNN) -- A 55-year-old researcher was attacked by an alligator Tuesday while diving on his job at Silver Springs Amusement Park in Ocala, Florida, authorities said.

The victim, identified as Peter Butt with the St John's Water Management District, was bitten around the head and neck, and may have suffered a broken jaw, said Miranda Iglesias, a spokeswoman for Marion County Fire Rescue.

Emergency personnel were able to keep him alert and he was transported to Shands Hospital in Gainesville. His condition was not immediately known.

Butt was checking water dye traps in a canal area restricted to the public, according to Joy Hill, a spokeswoman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"He was in the water most of the day and was aware of the alligator's presence," Iglesias said.

Butt was diving with at least one other person, she added, but he was not in the water at the time of the attack.

The second diver "had gotten out of the water and had walked away. He returned when he heard a yell," Iglesias said.

Butt was able to get out of the water and away from the alligator, she said.

Authorities said the alligator was 11.5 feet long. Video showed a group of several men with the company Nuisance Alligator Trappers struggling with the weight of the 550-pound alligator as they removed it from the water. The alligator was later destroyed, Hill said.