The family of a grandma who was dragged to her death by an alligator has sued the retirement village where she lived, claiming they knew about the predator lurking.
Gloria Serge, 85, died after the 10-foot alligator mauled her and dragged her into a lake as she tried to rescue her beloved dog Trooper from the reptile's clutches in 2023.
She was living at the Spanish Lakes Fairways retirement home in Fort Pierce, Florida, when disaster struck last February.
Chilling footage of a fatal alligator attack on an 85-year-old woman showed the beast silently pursuing her and her dog for over 30 meters before choosing the right time to attack. She was pulled into the water by the animal – named Henry by other residents.
A video showed the alligator jumping out of the water and lunging at the woman's dog, aptly named Trooper. Serge's puppy survived the attack, but the alligator was later captured and euthanized.
Serge (pictured) was a grandmother living at the Spanish Lakes Fairways retirement community in Fort Pierce, Florida, when she was killed by an alligator on Monday
The terrifying nightmare, captured on video, unfolded in front of a neighbor who frantically called 911 and tried to help the woman. But it was too late
Her family's lawyers have now filed a lawsuit against the retirement community, claiming that Wynne Building Corp. was responsible for her death.
The company developed and manages Spanish Lakes Fairways.
They claim that residents and employees fed the wild alligator food – and even gave it the pet name. There are no warning signs about the animal, the lawsuit states.
When Gloria's devastated son Bill Serge announced the lawsuit, he said he could not imagine “the agony of my mother's final moments of her life.”
He claimed his mother's death was “100% preventable.”
The son said: “No child should have to bury their mother in such terrible circumstances.”
“This was a tragedy that was 100% preventable. That’s why I stand here today on my mother’s behalf to tell her story in the hope that something like this will never happen again.”
Attorney Gary Lesser said the company knew there were dangerous alligators in the water behind the woman's home and did nothing about it. Some residents and staff actually fed the animal and named him Henry.
At a news conference, he said, “In fact, the neighborhood called this particular alligator Henry, and they called him Henry because the alligator was seen so often on the banks of this retention pond.”
Officers later managed to drag the alligator, whose snout was closed with a rope, across the grass and load it into a truck
A video released later shows Serge trying to free her dog from the alligator's mouth, but the alligator grabbed her instead and could be seen dragging her into the lake
“Surprisingly, Spanish Lakes actually did not release warnings about the existence of these dangerous alligators that they knew about.”
“There were no warnings to its residents in the weekly newsletters that Spanish Lakes sent to its residents.”
“During a recent visit to the property, it was noted that no signs warning of the alligators had yet been posted.”
Additionally, the attorneys allege that Spanish Lakes Fairways encouraged residents to socialize at the retention pond, where people could fish and walk their dogs.
He added, “Spanish Lakes is one of those communities where there is a rule: You can't walk your dog on the streets of your community.” In fact, Gloria received a misdemeanor and an eviction warning for walking her small dog in her front yard went for a walk in the house.'
Trooper, the trooper: Pictured is the grandmother's dog, who was walking when the alligator attacked. He survived
Officers later managed to drag the alligator (pictured), whose snout was closed with a rope, across the grass and load it into a truck
Florida has a population of 1.3 million alligators across its 67 counties, found in virtually all freshwater bodies of water and occasionally in saltwater.
But the number of cases of people being attacked by alligators in the state is small.
From 1948 to 2021, 442 unprovoked bite incidents occurred in Florida, 26 of which resulted in human deaths.
Over the past decade, there have been an average of eight unprovoked bites per year in Florida that were serious enough to require professional medical treatment, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says on its website.
“The chance that a Florida resident will be seriously injured in an unforeseen alligator incident in Florida is approximately one in 3.1 million,” it said.
Following yesterday's attack, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said: “Serious injuries from alligators are rare in Florida.”
“The FWC prioritizes public safety and administers a statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to address complaints about specific alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.”
“Individuals with concerns about an alligator should call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
“If anyone concerned about an alligator calls the nuisance alligator hotline, we will dispatch one of our contracted nuisance alligator catchers to resolve the situation.”