John Hopkins Florida driver, 59, killed after crashing into roaming 11ft alligator in Lithia while driving home from work, early Thursday morning.
John Hopkins, 59, was driving eastbound on County Road 672 in Lithia at about 12:30 a.m. when his vehicle plowed into the reptile in the middle of the road, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Hopkins’ car veered off the road and overturned in a nearby ditch. A passing motorist spotted the wreck and called 911.
Responding deputies pronounced Hopkins dead at the scene. The 11-foot alligator also died in the wreck, sheriff’s officials said.
An investigation is ongoing and officials may release footage of deputies as they arrived at the crash site, Villarreal said.
Was less than one mile from home when he struck the alligator
Hopkins lived in Lithia, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
A Facebook page described him as a Tennessee native and working as an information technology supervisor for the US Census Bureau.
Relatives told FOX13 that Hopkins had just started a new job and was on the way home and was less than a mile to his final destination when the tragedy occurred.
Villarreal said it’s unclear where the alligator came from, but the crash site is about 2 miles west of 6,312-acre Alafia River State Park, where the apex predators are known to roam, the Miami Herald reported.
Florida has an estimated 1.3 million alligators that can be found in all of its 67 counties, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
‘Alligators live in all 67 counties,’ the agency says, ‘and they inhabit all wild areas of Florida that can support them’.
The longest gator ever recorded in the state was 14 feet, 3 1/2 inches, while the record weight is 1,043 pounds, the state agency said.