Florida Man Killed in Car Crash with 11-Foot Alligator

Authorities say a Florida man died after his vehicle collided with an 11-foot alligator early Thursday morning.

John Hopkins, 59, was headed east on County Road 672 in Lithia when his vehicle plowed into the alligator in the roadway at around 12:30 a.m., the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in a press release. Hopkins’s vehicle “veered off the road” and rolled over into a ditch. Another motorist came across the wreck and called authorities, the release said.

Detectives were dispatched to the crash and Hopkins was pronounced dead at the scene. “The investigation is ongoing at this time,” the release said. The alligator also died.

Hopkins resided in Lithia, the Tampa Bay Times noted.

His family members informed WTVT that Hopkins was en route home from his new job when the crash occurred. The scene of the accident was under than a mile from Hopkins’s residence.

His sister Jane Pyzynski told the outlet:

It’s bizarre that [it was] an 11-foot alligator, [which] is a big alligator to begin with, but then to just total the car…he hit an alligator and flipped the car and he died instantly is what we were told. He was the apple of my mother’s eye, so to speak. He’ll be missed by the whole family.

“[I’ll miss] his sense of humor. He was a kind of a jokester,” she added.

The 6,312-acre Alafia River State Park, where alligators are known to live, is situated about two miles east of the crash site, but “investigators did not speculate on where the reptile came from,” the Miami Herald reported.

Florida is home to 1.3 million alligators, and they are present in all of the state’s 67 counties, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said.

The longest gator found in the state was a 14-foot, 3.5-inch behemoth from Brevard County’s Lake Washington, while the heaviest gator documented in Florida was a 1,043 pound, 13-foot, 10.5-inch male from Alachua County’s Orange Lake, the state agency noted.


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