An experienced bicyclist was riding his bike at Halpatiokee Regional Park in Stuart, Florida when he lost a tire going around a turn and fell into the water. To make matters worse, an 8-foot-long female gator was waiting inches from where he landed. Trappers told WPTV that gators are extra aggressive this time of year, and the alligator was probably protecting a nest nearby. Unfortunately for the bicyclist, this led to an alligator attack that left him seriously injured – with bite marks all over his leg and upper thigh.
Luckily, a nearby dog walker was able to pull the man out of the water and use his dog’s leash as a makeshift tourniquet. Paramedics later loaded the bicyclist into a Martin County Fire Rescue helicopter and rushed him to the hospital.
This is the kind of accident that could only happen in Florida, so let our local attorneys break down what might have gone wrong.
A Broken Bicycle
According to a witness and member of the Airborne Mountain Bike Club, the victim of this unlucky accident is an accomplished rider, and his bicycle may have let him down.
Because the bicyclist “lost a tire,” the manufacturer of the bicycle or anyone who worked on the bike and/or its tires could face liability if the victim were to sue.
Alligators in the Water
Although the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission emphasizes that serious injuries caused by alligators are rare, Florida waterways are filled with alligators. Gator experts say you “just have to be aware of what’s around you,” when you’re out in nature, but warning signs can go a long way.
In this case, “Halpatiokee” is the Seminole Indian word meaning “Alligator Water,” so visitors should be aware that there are alligators in the water. Nevertheless, the park closed its trails after the attack, which suggests Martin County may have work to do when it comes to trail safety and wildlife.
Additionally, Disney World has come under fire for its alligator problem, and alligators on some properties do raise questions of premises liability, especially when property owners do not take the appropriate precautions.
Be Careful Out There!
At Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC, we want to remind Stuart residents to be careful around alligators and other wildlife, particularly during the summer breeding season. We also want to point out that alligator attacks are rare, and motor vehicles are infinitely more dangerous.
If you want to explore some other options for safe bike rides, read our blog, “The Best Places to Ride Your Bike in Martin County.” Now is also a good time to prepare for a safe bike ride and review bicycle safety tips.
Whether you sustain an injury due to an unexpected hazard on someone else’s property or get into a bicycle accident, our firm is always here for you.
We understand the Stuart community, and our team is available 24/7 throughout Martin County.