National News

Body of Woman Attacked by an Alligator Is Found in Florida

Posted June 9, 2018 4:27 p.m. EDT

The body of a Florida woman who went missing Friday was found just hours after some of her remains were discovered inside an alligator, officials said Saturday.

The woman, identified as Shizuka Matsuki, 47, of Plantation, Florida, was last seen walking her dogs near a lake in the Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park in Davie, about 25 miles north of Miami, on Friday morning, the Davie Police Department said.

A man saw her walking her dogs there, and then minutes later saw the dogs running loose, one of them injured, reported WPLG, a local ABC affiliate. He called the police.

The man “went to the area where he thought that they had been walking, and he immediately spotted an alligator,” said Detective Viviana Gallinal.

A 12-foot, 6-inch alligator was removed from the lake Friday afternoon and officials performed a necropsy, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement. A spokesman for the commission told reporters they had found human remains inside the reptile. That day officials identified Matsuki as the victim.

Citing anonymous sources, local news outlets reported that an arm was found inside the alligator. Matsuki’s brother identified it by its distinctive tattoo, according to WSVN, a Fox affiliate.

Search teams found Matsuki’s body at the lake later Friday.

A Police Department spokesman declined to comment Saturday. A spokeswoman from the wildlife commission did not respond to phone messages.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Shizuka Matsuki,” the commission said in a statement on Twitter.

There are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in Florida — they live in each of the state’s 67 counties and can be found in nearly all its fresh and brackish water bodies — but attacks are rare.

The likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator attack is about 1 in 3.2 million, the commission said on its website.

There have been 401 unprovoked alligator bites between 1948 and 2017, the commission said, and of those 24 resulted in fatalities. Over the past 10 years, Florida averaged six bites per year that were serious enough to require professional medical treatment.

The most recent death in Florida happened in 2016, when a 2-year-old boy was snatched by an alligator while playing in a lagoon at a Disney resort. He died of drowning and traumatic injuries.

Last year, a 10-year-old girl narrowly escaped an alligator attack in Orlando.

“She was able to pry the alligator’s mouth open and remove her leg,” a spokeswoman for the commission said at the time.

Residents are advised to avoid feeding alligators, keep a safe distance and make sure pets stay on a leash, away from the water’s edge. Dogs are especially attractive to alligators.

“Alligators are opportunistic feeders and will eat animals that are readily available to them,” the commission’s fact sheet says. “They prefer to go after prey they can overpower easily. Opportunity is the primary factor that causes an alligator to pursue prey.”