Orange County Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told CNN affiliate KFDM that Woodward ignored verbal warnings and a posted “No Swimming Alligators” sign and seemed to mock the deadly creatures before going in the water.
“He removed his shirt, removed his billfold … someone shouted a warning and he said ‘blank the alligators’ and jumped in to the water and almost immediately yelled for help,” Price said.
“Please do not go swimming, there’s a bigger alligator out here. Just please stay out of the water,” witness and marina employee Michelle Wright said she told Woodward.
She said the next thing she heard was the woman screaming, “An alligator’s got him.” Wright said she used a flashlight in the darkness to scan the water.
In an emotional interview with KFDM, Wright said, “I saw his body floating face down. And then he’s out there for a couple of seconds and then he’s dragged back down. And then he comes back up still face down and then he gets pulled down again. And then he just disappears.”
Wright, who said she knew the victim and his family, said it was a moment she would never forget. She described the events that started out as a late night swim as “heartbreaking.”
Hopefully alcohol was a factor, because dear lord.