Gator Bucks the Law

Volusia County, Fla. Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Baughman attempted to subdue an 8-foot, 210-pound alligator at an apartment complex parking lot Thursday night by throwing a towel over its eyes and climbing onto its back, rodeo style.

Bad move, deputy. But you know what they say about hindsight.

According to the official sheriff’s report, “the alligator began to shake violently and rolled, at which time deputy Baughman lost his balance.”

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In other words, the lawman was unable to remain mounted for a full eight seconds in order to qualify for the next go-round.

Not only that, but when the agile reptile dismounted Baughman, its toothy jaws connected with his thigh and lower leg, leaving the deputy with something to help him remember their encounter for many years to come.

Scars.

“We’re very fortunate he didn’t suffer any more injuries than he did,” said Brandon Haught, sheriff’s spokesman.

As the alligator chomped down on the officer’s lower extremities, Deputy Jason Stickels pulled Baughman to safety, later firing multiple shots from his service weapon, Haught said. One bullet struck the alligator.

According to the Daytona News-Journal, Jerry Flynn, a trapper dispatched by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, subbed and killed the ornery gator.

“He had already been shot at,” said Flynn, a certified alligator trapper for six years. “It kind of went crazy.”

Deputy Baughman was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he was treated for puncture wounds below his knee and the inside of his thigh. He was released the following day.

“We recommend to the public never to engage an alligator. The same (goes) for our deputies--never engage the wildlife like that,” Haught told the Daytona newspaper. “It was just a case of bad judgment on his part.”

Considering this is the time of year that alligators are known to be especially active—and amorous—it might be a good time for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department to offer a refresher course on how to safely subdue the dangerous reptiles.

Lesson One: Never jump onto the back of an alligator.

Class instructor: Deputy Keith Baughman