Alligator that menaced paddleboarder in viral video is dead

In this Feb. 22, 2022, photo taken by paddler Brady Toensing, 54, of Reddick, Fla., licensed alligator trapper Al Roberts stands with a nearly 12-foot alligator killed in Silver Springs State Park, Fla. Will Parker, who was issued the permit by the state to kill the alligator, assigned the job to a colleague, Roberts. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Tammy Sapp confirmed that the alligator killed Feb. 22 was the same one seen in startling videos and photographs in the fall swimming near a paddleboarder who pushed it away with her paddle. ((Brady Toensing via AP))

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials have now killed a nearly 12-foot alligator that swam within inches of a frightened paddleboarder in a popular state park during an encounter in September recorded on video that went viral.

Officials say the male alligator was shot in the head one evening near dusk last month by a trapper contracted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The viral video shows the gator floating by a woman’s paddleboard in Silver Springs State Park in Marion County.

“He came after me and tried to bite my paddleboard,” Vicki Baker said in the video.

Baker said in the video she thinks someone has been feeding the gator because of how close it was to people, making it “very dangerous.”

“This gator comes out of nowhere and it comes in between the two kayaks and straight for my paddleboard and then he opened his mouth and almost bit my paddleboard,” Baker told News 6 in Orlando.

“I panicked. If you listen to my voice, it was very shaky. I know people think I was really calm but I wasn’t,” Baker said. “I had to get it away from me. I didn’t have a choice you know, it was this close to me. I didn’t have a choice. I was defending myself and I didn’t smack it on the head I didn’t try to hurt it I just wanted it to go away.”

According to the state park’s website, “the river is home to alligators, turtles, manatees and many species of fish.”

Florida is home to over 1 million alligators. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission urges people to keep their distance if they see an alligator.

Baker said she immediately showed the video to a park ranger.

“I showed them the video and I said, ‘I’m scared the gator is going to hurt somebody’ and they said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We will take care of it,’” Baker said.

The alligator had been a popular curiosity among kayakers and paddleboarders in Silver Springs State Park, where it was often seen lounging in the sun along the banks of the Silver River.

The park enforces a no-swimming rule.

To report a nuisance gator, click here.

About the Authors:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.