A Florida man died Thursday morning after ramming an 11-foot alligator with his car, authorities said.
At around 12:30 a.m., John Hopkins, 59, was driving east on Country Road 672 in Lithia, about 20 miles southeast of Tampa, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. While driving, the front of Hopkins’ car struck an 11-foot alligator sitting in the middle of the road.
Authorities said the impact of the crash caused Hopkins’ car to veer off the road and flip into a ditch.
A motorist passing the area noticed the car and called the police. When detectives arrived, they pronounced Hopkins dead at the scene. The alligator was also killed.
The alligator’s size was about the average height of a fully mature alligator, according to the National Wildlife Federation. On average, alligators will grow up to 12 feet tall and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. The state record for the largest alligator, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is 14 feet, 3½ inches.
The commission estimates that there are about 1.3 million alligators in the state, living in every county in Florida.
Investigators haven’t said if they know how the alligator ended up on the road, but the Miami Herald reported that 2 miles east of the crash site is the park. Alafia River State, a 6,312 acre park known to be home to many alligators.
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