DAVIE, Fla. (AP/WHDH) — A human arm found inside an alligator that was pulled from a Davie lake where a woman disappeared is presumed to belong to her, according to a source close to the investigation. Police believe the woman was dragged into the lake by the gator while walking her dogs, Friday morning.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believes the woman is deceased, and they have shifted from a search to a recovery mode.
Officers continue to search for the woman’s body, identified by a family friend as 46-year-old Shizuka Matsuki, in the Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park, at 5695 S.W. 52nd Ave.
Davie Police said the witness told them the woman was walking her dogs before she was grabbed by the alligator, just before 10 a.m.
The witness told police she did not actually see the woman being dragged into the lake, but when she looked back, the woman was gone, and the dogs were still there, one of which had a fresh wound. Police therefore are operating under the theory that the woman was grabbed by a gator.
“One of them which had an injury, a fresh injury,” said Davie Police Detective Vivian Gallinal about one of the dogs identified as a pit bull.
The three dogs are now in custody of Broward Animal Care.
The victim’s brother was at the scene visibly distraught and awaiting answers.
He assisted investigators in confirming the arm belonged to the woman because of a distinctive tattoo located on the body part.
In a Sun Sentinel report, Davie Police Maj. Dale Engle said no divers could search the water until the alligator was captured.
The FWC responded to the scene with trappers and worked for hours to catch the gator.
They finally wrangled a 12-foot-long alligator around 2:45 p.m.
Though the arm was found inside this gator, it is still not clear if this animal is responsible for Matsuki’s death.
A man who claims to be a family friend said the victim’s husband is in Chicago and is rushing to the scene.
“He doesn’t even know if she’s still alive or not,” the man said.
Residents said this lake is a dangerous place to walk.
“It could have been one of us,” said Patricia Ramsaran. “It could have been me or my kids out here and an alligator out of nowhere.”
Ramsaran noted that there are many alligators in this lake but said there aren’t signs warning the public that these animals are in the area.
“There are plenty of gators in this lake,” she said. “I’m out here all the time with my kids and my husband. You can see them. They’re at least [8-foot], 9-foot alligators.”
Another resident said a ranger once told her about the dangers of walking near the lake.
“The first thing you think that a gator is going to grab you and grab your dog,” said Sharon Estupinan. “The ranger has told me be careful.”
Alligators and humans have crossed paths more and more in Florida, as people increasingly seek waterfront homes and recreation – but fatal attacks remain rare.
According to the FWC, the likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly only one in 3.2 million.
From 1948 to 2017, the commission has documented 401 people bitten by alligators, including 24 fatalities. The most recent death occurred in 2016, when a 2-year-old boy playing near the water’s edge at a Walt Disney World resort was killed.
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