Fatal attack on dog in Port Orange waterway grim reminder of New Smyrna Beach toddler killed by gator 2 decades ago

Gator swims in lake in Port Orange, FL, where dog killed, partially eaten buy another gator / Headline Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® /
An alligator swims in a Skylake neighborhood in Port Orange, Florida, where a family's bulldog, was pulled under water by a large gator and partly eaten. The dog was found on water's edge, one of its hind legs gone. A trapper killed a 9-foot male gator fitting the description of a gator seen a week earlier when the dog disappeared. What trapper Curtis Lucas, shown below, found after cutting open the dead gator's stomach were 'bones and hair' of the dog, prompting him to say, 'We got the right gator.'

Alligator trapper in Port Orange / Headline Surfer®Gator that killed dog in Port Orange killed / Headline Surfer®PORT ORANGE, Fla. -- The horrific death of a bulldog by an alligator earlier this week in a Port Orange subdivision before it was trapped and killed, led to the predator's stomach being cut open and revealing identifying part of the dog - bones and hair - a grim reminder of what happens when Florida's wildlife habitat and people and their pets collide.

Losing a pet under these circumstances is devastating. So imagine what it must be like to lose a human.

Nearly 19 years ago, the ultimate horror occurred at Lake Ashby, when ironically a family dog barked as a little boy was being dragged into the pond by a large gator.

The body of the toddler was seen by a hunter being pushed by a gator the next day and the creature was shot three times and killed.

Adam Binsford killed by an alligator 19 years ago at Lake Ashby, FL / Headline Surfer®Adam Trevor Binford, 3,  of New Smyrna Beach, shown here at left, was killed an 11-foot gator in Lake Ashby on March 22, 1997, after he and his brother and a dog were playing near the water's edge.

Here's how it was described in a story written nearly two decades ago as a family's picnic outing turned to sheer terror:

One of the family dogs barked Friday as it waited for 3-year-old Adam Trevor Binford to return from picking flowers in Lake Ashby. But Adam never returned. The last thing his mother and 8-year-old brother saw before he disappeared was a big splash. A hysterical Lorri Ann Binford originally told officials she saw an alligator attack her son, but later said she only saw a big splash "too big for a little boy to make."

The March 22, 1997, account of the New Smyrna Beach toddler's death was written by my then-colleague, Molly Justice, on the front page of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where we both worked at the time as breaking news reporters.

If irony wasn't enough with Monday's gator victim being a dog and a family dog barking after a toddler had been grabbed by a gator nearly two decades ago, both fatal instances involved the same trapper, licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: Curtis Lucas.

Nearly 20 hours after a mysterious splash in a sea of lily pads, the body of a New Smyrna Beach toddler was found in the grip of an 11-foot, 400- to 450-pound alligator Saturday morning. After combing through the murky waters of the 3,200-acre lake all night, Astor trapper Curtis Lucas ended the search with three gunshots shortly after 8 a.m. The alligator died immediately and quickly was implicated in the death of 3-year-old Adam Trevor Binford.

And in both cases, cutting open the dead gator's stomach revealed remains of its prey. 

Lucas told reporters today that the bulldog was missing a back leg when it was found Monday by the edge of a man-made lake in the Skylake neighborhood.

The trapper caught and killed the 9-foot male gator two days later and when he cut open the stomach: "I found bones and hair. We got the right gator."

Residents of a lakefront Kendrew Drive home suspected their dog, which had gone missing a week earlier, was the victim of the gator since killed by the trapper, after it was captured in a former quarry, filled with water.

Tips in terms of co-existing with alligators in the Sunshine State: 

Alligato fast facts / Headline Surfer®• Never feed alligators – it’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. When this happens, some of these alligators have to be removed and killed.
• Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them into the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the result can be the same.
• Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites can result in serious infections.
• Observe and photograph alligators only from a distance. Remember, they’re an important part of Florida’s natural history as well as an integral component of aquatic ecosystems.
• Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators. And alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night. Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators. Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest, so do not swim with your dog.
--Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

Florida alligator nuisance hotline / Headline Surfer®FAST FACTS: 

• The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program permits the killing of approximately 7,000 nuisance alligators each year.
• Alligators are a fundamental part of Florida’s wetlands, swamps, rivers and lakes, and they are found in all 67 counties.
• Since 1948, Florida has averaged about five unprovoked bites by alligators on people per year.
• During that period, a little more than 300 unprovoked bites to people have been documented in Florida, with 22 resulting in deaths.
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.