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Family of elderly woman killed by alligator in Florida sues retirement community

Alligator kills 85-year-old woman in Florida
Alligator kills 85-year-old woman in Florida 01:00

The family of an elderly woman killed by an alligator last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the retirement community where the attack happened. 

Gloria Serge, 85, she died in February 2023 while walking her small dog near the lake outside of her home in Spanish Lakes Fairways, a housing development in Fort Pierce, Florida. Surveillance footage from a wildlife camera  set up in the community showed the moment a big alligator emerged from the lake and lunged at both Serge and her dog. 

The footage was released by Inside Edition, and it includes portions of a distressed 911 call that Serge's neighbor placed as she watched the alligator pull the 85-year-old into the water. 

Wildlife officials estimated that the alligator was 10 feet long. It took at least six people to wrangle the creature, load it into the back of a pickup truck and transport it to be euthanized after the attack. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed in a statement soon after the attack that Serge's remains had been recovered.

911 Call Reveals Moments After Gator Attacks Elderly Woman by Inside Edition on YouTube

The lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of Serge's son, William Serge, who manages her estate. 

"One year ago, I received a phone call that every son dreads," William Serge said at a news conference, CBS affiliate WPEC reported. "I never could have imagined the agonizing way that my mother spent the last moments of her life."

Serge's family is seeking at least $50,000 in damages from Wynne Building Corporation, which owns and operates Spanish Lakes Fairways, as well as a jury trial, according to the complaint. The lawsuit holds the corporation responsible for the deadly alligator attack, claiming that Wynne Building Corporation knew the creature lived on the property, or should have known, but did not alert residents or take steps to remove the animal.

"The presence of large alligators in the lakes on the property was well known to the property manager, and this gator was no exception," said attorneys representing Serge's family in a statement. "In fact, evidence obtained by our firm will show that maintenance workers in the community routinely fed this alligator chicken scraps and even named the dangerous reptile 'Henry.'"

Wynne Building Corporation president Joel Wynne said in a statement provided to CBS News: "We certainly understand the tragedy and the feelings of Mrs. Serge's family. However, we developed Spanish Lakes Fairways 37 years ago. We have approximately 3,000 residents. This is the very first time where a resident was attacked by an Alligator. Mrs. Serge was a longtime resident and certainly knew of the presence of alligators and that they were inherently dangerous animals."

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