Alligator bites Sarasota man; second attack within the last week

Melissa Pérez-Carrillo
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A Sarasota man was bitten by an alligator Wednesday afternoon in Manatee County – the second attack in the region within just days. 

Eric Merda, 43, was near Lake Manatee Fish Camp at 23745 County Road 675 in Myakka City at 5:30 p.m. when he was bitten by an alligator, according to a written statement from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

FWC received the call of the attack and responded, along with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and Manatee County EMS. 

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Merda was transported to the hospital to be treated for a serious injury in his arm, a representative with FWC said in a written statement. 

Gary Sharpe unloads his boat to fish regularly at the Lake Manatee Fish Camp. He said that he's only seen smaller alligators that are 3 to 4 feet in the area, but that incidents with alligators aren't uncommon. 

"We're in their neighborhood, so we expect to see them," Sharpe said. "If we didn't see them, it would be an odd thing."

Gary Sharpe launches his boat from the shore at the Lake Manatee Fish Camp on Thursday.

As a long-time Florida resident, Sharpe said that gators have always been a variable to consider, but he doesn't go looking for them. 

"Leave them alone, and they'll leave you alone," Sharpe said. 

FWC is investigating the incident. 

This has been the second alligator attack within the last week in the area.

The first one killed an 80-year-old woman in Englewood. The body of Rose Wiegand, 80, was found in a pond at the Boca Royale Golf and County Club late Friday evening. She was seen falling into the pond along the golf course near her home and struggling to stay afloat, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office. 

Two alligators, one 8 feet 10 inches and the other 7 feet 7 inches, were removed from the pond shortly after the incident.