As 90-year-old Margaret Webb remains in critical condition with an amputated leg, wildlife officials are losing hope that her attacker, an 8-foot alligator, will be found.
Webb was placed in an induced coma to help avoid infection after the unprovoked alligator bit her leg Wednesday afternoon, said Dwain Daniels III, a Good Samaritan and family friend who helped rescue the Copeland woman.
Webb’s leg was amputated below the knee and she suffered bites on her right leg as well, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report. She had been walking along a 14-foot canal in her front yard when the alligator attacked.
Officials doubt the gator will be recovered after it was seriously injured or killed when Daniels shot it.
“As a result, it is unlikely we will ever locate or recover this alligator,” FWC spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro said in an e-mail. “There is also a swift current which has likely taken the live, wounded, or dead gator miles downstream by now.”
Daniels, who pulled Webb from the canal after the alligator released her from its grip, said he pulled a .22 caliber rifle from his truck and fired a shot into the reptile’s right eye. Daniels had been returning home to Port Charlotte when he happened to drive by Webb’s State Road 29 home as the attack happened.
The alligator came back to the water’s edge three times before it was shot, according to a FWC report.
“I know where I hit him, and if the bullet penetrated like it should have, he’s dead,” said Daniels, 30, adding he’s been around alligators for about half his life. “They’ll need to get down to that dam because he’ll be floating (today).”
Family members and friends took to Facebook Thursday to post updates on Webb’s condition at Lee Memorial Hospital.
Denise Johnson, who identified herself as Webb’s granddaughter, posted that Webb also had a broken arm and toe and could go into surgery today.
“Doctors are very optimistic and said she is doing as well as can be expected,” Johnson wrote.
Daniels said doctors were fearful of infections because alligators have significant amounts of bacteria in their mouths. Yet he remained hopeful the 90-year-old, known around town as Miss Webb or Aunt Margaret, would recover.
“Everybody’s been saying that if anybody can come back from this, it’s her,” Daniels said.