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    Alligator attacks swimmer at nudist camp

    The lizard drags a woman under as she swims naked with her family at Pasco's Lake Como Nudist Resort. She survives.

    By JAMES THORNER and BRADY DENNIS

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 28, 2001


    LAND O'LAKES -- A woman swimming naked with her family at Pasco County's Lake Como Nudist Resort survived a bloody attack by an 8- or 9-foot alligator Wednesday.

    Witnesses said Dagmar Dow, 43, was dragged under water at Big Moss Lake by an alligator that had clasped its jaws on her foot and arm.

    Dow had been snorkeling with her husband, Ray, and a school-age son in about 6 feet of water next to a floating platform offshore, Lake Como resident Jackie Murphy said.

    "The husband saw her get pulled under, so he grabbed her and pulled her the other way," said Murphy, who was alerted to the 2:45 p.m. attack by a woman's screams.

    But the reptile attacked again. Ray Dow kicked the gator in the head several times to complete the rescue, sheriff's deputies said.

    Other nudists who had been lounging nearby on the sandy lakeshore applied pressure to gashes on Dow's ankle and arm.

    A helicopter flew her to Tampa General Hospital, where she was in fair condition Wednesday evening after emergency surgery. Family members did not want to talk about the incident Wednesday night.

    Big Moss Lake is the recreational centerpiece of the resort, a shady enclave of 158 mobile homes southwest of State Road 54 and U.S. 41 in Pasco County.

    Although at least six alligators live in the lake, this was the first attack in the resort's 60-year history, residents said.

    Wednesday's incident comes after an even more tragic attack Saturday in Polk County.

    Two-year-old Alexandria Murphy was found dead near the shoreline of Lake Cannon, the victim of an attack by an alligator that authorities said had been fed and had lost its fear of people. The girl was the 12th person killed in Florida by an alligator attack in the past 50 years, according to the Associated Press.

    As gator trapper Bill Harter tossed a baited hook into Big Moss Lake on Wednesday evening, officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said this alligator also appeared to have lost its natural fear of humans through feeding.

    Based on earlier complaints, a trapper unsuccessfully tried to capture a gator at the nudist resort Friday.

    "We implore people not to feed wildlife because this type of tragedy results," commission spokesman Gary Morse said.

    Once caught, the alligator, which witnesses said was at least 8 feet long, would be killed. Morse called the lakeside a "crime scene" and suggested investigators might charge people who had been feeding the alligators.

    As television camera crews descended on the secluded nudist resort Wednesday afternoon, more than one resident pledged to be more careful before swimming.

    "I swim in the lake every day, and I never worry about gators," Murphy said. "Not anymore."

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