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Alligator grabs, drowns boy in marina

TAVARES, Florida (AP)

June 19, 2003

A 10-foot alligator attacked and killed a 12-year-old boy who was swimming near a marina in central Florida, police said.

Brian Griffin was pulled under the dark water Wednesday, minutes after two friends spotted alligators and screamed for him to get out of the Dead River where they had been swimming, witnesses said.

Deputies and witnesses saw the alligator surface at least once with the boy in his jaws, but the animal quickly disappeared across the river, the Orlando Sentinel reported in a story for Thursday editions.

The boy was under for at least 25 minutes before a sheriff's helicopter spotted him and dropped a buoy to guide deputies, who pulled him up. The boy was pronounced dead Wednesday night at Leesburg Regional Medical Center, deputies said.

"We saw gators all day," said 14-year-old Justin VanGorder, who said he was swimming with Brian. "Every time we saw them, we would get out of the water."

Justin said he and the other boy saw alligators and got out of the water, but Brian wouldn't get out.

Authorities said they are dealing with more alligator complaints because so many of the reptiles are turning up around rain-bloated retention ponds, ditches and canals.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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