LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A man who ran into a Lakeland, Florida, lake to escape from police had three-quarters of his arm bitten off by an alligator in the lake, police said on Thursday.
Officers responded to a home on Long Lake Circle at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving a call about a disturbance. A Lakeland Police Department spokesperson said that a mother called and said her 21-year-old son needed psychological help and was having an episode at the time.
According to the man’s family, he suffers from PTSD.
The man had gone into a wooded area behind their apartment and his mother was concerned for his safety. She said that if her son was found, she wanted him taken into custody under the Baker Act law.
Lakeland police officers responded and requested that the Polk County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and a bloodhound help search the area.
The man called once from his cell phone and said he was near Combee Road at a dealership. At 9:21 p.m. officers located a witness who said they saw him running in the area.
At 9:52 p.m., the sheriff’s office helicopter spotted the man lying on the ground at 5026 Long Lake Circle. He told deputies he knew law enforcement was looking for him so he swam back across the lake to this location. A sign was posted where he exited the lake that read “Caution! Alligators frequent this area!”
Police say the man was missing approximately three-quarters of his left forearm. EMS responded to the scene and transported him to Lakeland Regional Health Center. The man was also placed under the Baker Act due to his condition. There are no criminal charges pending at this time against him.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was notified and officers will follow-up on the alligator bite incident.