The victim was left with no alternative as the owner had explicitly prohibited residents from walking their dogs on the street.
Wynne Building Corp., the owner of the Spanish Lakes senior housing complex in Fort Pierce, is facing a lawsuit from the family of Gloria Serge. The lawsuit alleges that the company’s employees not only fed the alligator that ultimately killed Serge, but also failed to remove it from the neighborhood retention pond. Serge, an 85-year-old widow who had resided in the complex for nearly three decades, tragically drowned on February 20 when a 10-foot alligator, known as “Henry” among residents, seized her ankle and pulled her into the pond where the reptile had been residing for several months.
During a press conference, the family’s legal representatives, Gary Lesser and Joshua Ferraro, stated that the employees at Spanish Lakes regularly fed Henry, the alligator, with chicken and other food, which reduced its fear of humans. They also accused the employees of never reporting the presence of potentially dangerous alligators to the state hotline, which is responsible for removing them. Additionally, they claimed that Spanish Lakes threatened to evict Serge if she walked her dog, Trooper, on the street, which violated the complex’s rules. As a result, Serge had no choice but to walk Trooper in her backyard next to the pond.
Furthermore, the attorneys argued that the company failed to inform residents about the potential threat posed by alligators and even installed docks and waterside benches, creating a false sense of safety for Serge and other residents.
Lesser emphasized that this tragic incident could have been completely avoided if Spanish Lakes had exercised common sense and taken reasonable precautions. He firmly believes that Gloria would still be alive today if the company had acted responsibly.
Bill Serge, the victim’s 62-year-old son, expressed the profound emotional devastation that he and his siblings have experienced due to their mother’s tragic death. The sudden and violent nature of the attack, coupled with the haunting thoughts of his mother’s final moments, has plunged them into a deep and overwhelming grief.
Wynne and Spanish Lakes officials refrained from providing an immediate response on Thursday to a call and email requesting their comments. The lawsuit, which has been filed in state court, aims to obtain damages of an unspecified amount.
Despite the increasing encroachment on their habitat by humans, fatal alligator attacks in Florida remain rare, even though there are over a million alligators living in the state. According to the latest statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there have been a total of 453 alligator attacks from 1948 to 2022, with 26 of them resulting in fatalities. This means that, on average, there is approximately one death every three years. Last year, both Gloria Serge and another woman were tragically killed by alligators.
Commission spokesperson Lauren Claerbout emphasizes the importance of never feeding alligators, as it is both illegal and dangerous. Feeding alligators can cause them to lose their natural wariness and associate humans with a source of food, leading to potentially dangerous situations for both people and the alligators themselves.
A security video obtained by the TV show “Inside Edition” captured the moment when Gloria Serge and Trooper were standing near the water’s edge, unaware of the swiftly approaching alligator. The alligator lunged out of the water, and although Trooper managed to jump out of harm’s way, Serge was grabbed by the gator.
A neighbor named Carol Thomas recounted that she heard a commotion and witnessed the alligator pulling Serge into the water. Thomas tried to advise Serge to swim towards a nearby paddle boat, but Serge, struggling against the alligator’s grip, exclaimed, “I can’t. The gator has me!”
Thomas stated that she hurried to retrieve a pole in order to strike the alligator, but upon her return, Serge had already been submerged.
Thomas expressed her helplessness, saying, “I am constantly haunted by the fact that there was nothing else I could have done.”
Serge’s lifeless body was eventually found, while the alligator was captured and put to sleep.
Bill Serge emphasized the traumatic nature of the incident, stating, “No individual should ever have to witness what my mother endured on that day. No child should be forced to lay their mother to rest under such horrific circumstances.”
What do you think of this story? Is the family wright to sue the the building complex?