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Man killed in suspected alligator attack likely looking for Frisbees in lake: Police

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(LARGO, Fla.) -- A Florida man killed in a suspected alligator attack was likely looking for Frisbees in a lake, authorities said.

The Largo Police Department said Tuesday it is investigating the death of a man at Taylor Lake in Largo, a city in the Tampa Bay area.

"At this time, detectives believe the victim was looking for Frisbees in the water and a gator was involved," the department said in a statement.

The man was found along the shoreline by a bystander walking their dog in Taylor Park, home to a 53-acre freshwater lake, and police were contacted around 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Largo Police Department spokesperson Megan Santo.

Police identified the victim Wednesday as 47-year-old Sean Thomas McGuinness. Investigators believe he was looking for Frisbees in the water at night when an alligator likely attacked him.

"According to Park Management, McGuinness was known to frequent the park and enter the lake with disregard to the posted 'No Swimming' signs," the department said in a statement. "A witness also advised detectives that McGuinness was known to sell discs back to people within the park as the park is equipped with a disc golf course and McGuinness was found within a few feet of a disc in the water."

The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death, though it was apparent from the injuries that alligators were involved, police said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to the scene Tuesday.

"A contracted nuisance alligator trapper is working to remove a nearby alligator and efforts will be made to determine if it was involved in this situation," the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement Tuesday.

Police urged residents and visitors to avoid going near or swimming in the lake at any time. There are "no swimming" signs posted at the lake, according to police.

Fatal alligator bites are rare. From 1948 to 2021, Florida reported 442 unprovoked bite incidents from alligators, 26 of which resulted in fatalities, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In the last 10 years, the state has averaged eight unprovoked bites a year that require medical treatment, the agency said.

The likelihood of someone being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly one in 3.1 million, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The last fatal alligator attack in Florida was in 2019, according to the agency.

A man was bitten in the face by an alligator at Taylor Park in 2020 while looking for frisbees in the lake, ABC News Tampa affiliate WFTS reported at the time. The injury was non-life-threatening.

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