FORT MEADE, FL — A Florida man’s hand and foot were found in the stomach of an alligator that was removed from a canal Thursday along with the 45-year-old man’s body, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The agency’s Carrie Horstman identified the man as Michael Ford II of Wauchula but said it was not yet clear what role the alligator played in Ford’s death, if any.
“An autopsy revealed that Ford had other lacerations and injuries caused by the gator, and his apparent cause of death is drowning, although his final cause and manner of death are pending toxicology,” Horstman said.
The body was found in Polk County off Peeples Road, west of County Road 630. A 9-1-1 caller reported seeing the body to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office around 7:43 a.m. (listen to the call below) Thursday on property belonging to the Mosaic Company. The company uses the land to mine and process phosphate rock for phosphate fertilizer production.
“When he was found by a Mosaic employee, a large alligator had a part of Ford’s body in his mouth,” Horstman explained. “When first responders arrived on scene, the gator had disengaged.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trapped and killed the alligator, and a necropsy was performed, according to Horstman.
Investigators found a truck nearby and determined that it belonged to a friend of Ford’s who had recently agreed to sell it to him.
“Neither the friend nor Ford’s family had heard from him since Sunday, June 23, 2019, “Horstman added.
Listen to the 9-1-1 call below courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office: