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Gator attacks man on golf course

Early Edition: The man apparently was preparing to dive into the water to retrieve balls when he was attacked.

By Times staff
Published February 14, 2007

Alligator trapper Mickey Fagan, right, pulls a gator out of a pond on the fifth hole of the Timber Greens Golf Course in New Port Richey on Wednesday. The gator is said to have bit a man collecting golf balls that morning.
[Times photo: Lance Aram Rothstein]

An alligator attacked a man at about 10 a.m. today at Timber Greens Golf Course in New Port Richey, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.  The victim was identified as Vernon Messier, 57, who was working at the course as an independent contractor.

Messier was attacked on his left foot and suffered non-life threatening injuries, the Sheriff's Office reported. 

He was near the fifth hole and was in the water about 10 feet from shore when he was attacked, the report said.  Messier apparently was retrieving golf balls and was preparing to dive into the water when he felt the alligator trying to pull him under. 

Messier gouged at the alligator's eyes and tried to pry apart his grip from his leg, the Sheriff's Office said. 

He refused to be transported by paramedics and said he was going to drive himself to a Tampa area hospital.

[Last modified February 14, 2007, 14:07:21]

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