DAVIE, Fla. — Authorities searched a Florida pond Friday after a witness told police an alligator attacked a woman walking her dogs and dragged her into the water.
Trappers pulled a 12 and-a-half-foot gator from Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park Friday afternoon in Davie and Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission officials confirmed what everyone feared.
Inside the reptile, they found evidence of Shizuka Matsuki — the Plantation woman who vanished earlier while walking her dogs.
“Initial necropsy revealed human remains. At this time, we believe the victim is deceased and we will continue the search until morning,” FWC Officer Ronald Washington said.
The caller reported seeing the alligator drag her into the pond in Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park at about 9:45 a.m. Friday.
The statement also said officials believe Shizuka Matsuki, 47, was killed and that investigators “will continue recovery efforts.”
Davie Police Detective Viviana Gallinal said a witness told authorities Friday morning that he saw the woman walking two dogs and then noticed the dogs alone, barking near the water. One of the dogs had a fresh injury.
In a Sun Sentinel report, Davie Police Maj. Dale Engle said divers were searching the water.
“Her dogs won’t leave the pond,” Engle said. “One of her dogs got bit by the gator.”
It took authorities more than five hours to trap the 12-foot-alligator. Officials reportedly found an arm inside the reptile. Divers are still searching for the missing woman.
“Her husband just called me a half-hour ago, ‘Hey something happened with my wife and by your house in the park, and a couple find the dog, but they don’t find her,” a friend of the victim said.
BREAKING: Search teams have recovered the body of Shizuka Matsuki at the lake at Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park in Davie. They found her remains just before 10 PM last night, after she was attacked by an alligator. pic.twitter.com/AE1ruKIrra
— Madeleine Wright (@MWrightReports) June 9, 2018
Alligators are synonymous with Florida with more than one million in the state. They can literally show up anywhere. One even watched a 6-year-old boy play on a Slip ‘N Slide.
His mother Nicole Mojica said she no longer feels comfortable letting her kids play in the backyard.
“I told my kids, ‘Run! Gator! Run! Gator!’ They didn’t know what I was talking about,” Mojica told CBS affiliate WKMG-TV.
The pond is in a park near the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, a major Miami-area tourist and entertainment attraction.
Authorities closed the park Friday. CBS Miami reports the park is very popular. People go there to walk, walk their dogs and picnic. There are two lakes at the park and the reported attack happened in what is referred to as the North Lake.
Edwin Gomez is at the park nearly every day.
“I saw the gator yesterday, it responds in a natural way. It’s sad to hear someone got hit by the gator,” he said.
The park is surrounded by homes. Neighbors say they often see people walking their dogs around the lakes and have even seen kids go swimming in them.
The last deadly attack was two years ago when 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed visiting Disney World. But those types of attacks are rare. In Florida, over the last 60 years, there have been 24 alligator attacks where people died.
The two dogs are okay. The woman’s husband was out of town when the incident took place.
Edwin Gomez, a resident who lives in the area, said he was horrified to hear an alligator may be behind the woman’s disappearance.
“The gator lurking in one of the lakes is well known to regulars. When I sit in the pavilion, I tell people there’s a gator they say, ‘OK, this is Florida,'” Gomez told CBS Miami. “Everybody walks their dogs, we go there all the time.”
Alligators and humans have crossed paths more and more in Florida, as people increasingly seek waterfront homes and recreation – but fatal attacks remain rare.
According to the wildlife commission, the likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly only one in 3.2 million.
From 1948 to 2017, the commission has documented 401 people bitten by alligators, including 24 fatalities. The most recent death occurred in 2016, when a 2-year-old boy playing near the water’s edge at a Walt Disney World resort was killed.
Maria Raeaoso, whose home sits on one of two lakes in the park, says her poodle disappeared last year and she wonders if a gator is to blame. Despite signs posted saying no swimming, neighbors say it’s not unusual to see kids splashing in the lake. “It’s very sad. You see boys swimming in the canal,” said Raeaoso.
“We are in South Florida. Maybe there isn’t enough food back there,” said neighbor James Galligan.
Officials Find Human Remains Inside Gator, Following Davie Attack