Local officials are still searching for a woman reported missing over the weekend, after an alligator attacked her as she was paddling her kayak. Authorities stated that 28 year-old Maggie Bennett was attacked shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday while kayaking with friends on a local creek. This is the fifth attack this summer by alligators on unsuspecting women in kayaks.
Department of Wildlife representative, Paul Hogan, commented on the situation during a press conference. He noted that the attack occurred in fairly shallow water and there were no warning signs.
“There were no warning signs,” he stated. “This individual was enjoying a peaceful time on the water when she was violently attacked by what we believe to be, a twelve to fourteen foot alligator. According to statements from those present, the gator lunged out of the water and pulled her under. Several of her friends and family attempted to rescue her, but were impeded in their efforts due to their high blood alcohol content levels.”
Hogan noted that this incident has several similiarities to previous attacks. He noted that all of the attacks occurred on or near the water. Also all of the women were either sitting in the kayak or standing next to it. He also noted that all the kayaks were made of a polypropylene blend and that the scent of this material may have attracted the alligators as well as the color of the material. “What we have to remember is these animals are known as alpha-predators. They are at the top of the food chain in their environment. However, they are not known for attacking a grown adult. Especially one in a boat. However, we are investigating whether or not they are potentially attracted to the kayak itself. It is scientifically proven that these gators are attracted to bright colors. In each case they have attacked kayaks that were painted multiple shades of bright blue, green, pink, white, and other shades. I would advise avoiding these colors of kayaks until we can fully assess the validity of the situation at hand.”
Hogan also added that before going on the water, it may be best to coat the kayak with a substance to disrupt the olfactory senses of the alligator. “Our scientists have suggested to spray a light coating of any petroleum based product onto the surface of the kayak. This will confuse and repel the alligators, and create a lifesaving barrier between you and them; provided neither of you smoke cigarettes.”
He also dispelled one myth about the attacks and why they were occurring with such frequency. “I want it to be known that there is no truth to the rumor that these gators are attacking women because they are on their monthly cycles. According to witness statements, none of the victims were menstrual cycling at the time they were attacked. In fact, three of the victims were not capable anymore of going through the cycle as they had already entered the menopause. Furthermore, until we apprehend the gators in question, we will be unable to determine if the attacks are caused due to the alligator menstruating.”
When asked what he thought caused the alligator to attack Maggie Bennett, her fiance John Crowder, responded. “The devil. The devil brought that beast to bear on my beautiful bride to be,” he stated as he fought back tears. “I don’t think it was anything to do with her, or that there kayak color. I know it weren’t her monthly visitor. Unless it had come after that last sand bar we stopped at about a quarter mile back. No, I tell ya, it was the devil.”
A family representative spoke with us on condition of anonymity due to pending warrants. He stated that the young couple were scheduled to be married in the fall, and had planned to move into their new home they purchased. This week was supposed to be a happy one, as the house was scheduled to be delivered that day. Then, as if on cue, a truck drove by with the house in tow. The man stood there and slowly shook his head as tears filled his eyes. He told me that the couple had planned for a large family, but now he doubted as to whether one person really needed the double-wide.
On the town square, citizens were still shocked and reeling from the tragedy. A ribbon was tied to the front door of local coffee shop where Maggie worked. Inside customers and co-workers were still trying to deal with the tragedy.
“She was such a good friend,” stated Ginger Swahlo, a waitress at the coffee shop and co-worker of Maggie’s. “We are all just in shock. That girl was full of life, and had such a bright future ahead of her. She dreamed of being an artist and someday opening a art gallery here in town, or maybe even in the city. Let me tell ya, that girl could draw. Heck, when I was wanting to cover up my last ex-husband’s name, I asked her to draw something over it. Fore I knowed, it we was at the tattoo parlor and bam! Old boy is outta my life and covered by these here roses.” She lifted her shirt to show me the artwork Maggie had designed. She was correct, the roses were beautifully drawn and the name of her ex was barely noticeable; and even then only when she moved the breast out of the way and the light cast down on the skin at a perfect angle.
Back at the creek near the site of the accident, authorities are still busy trying to locate Maggie Bennett. While they still hope for a positive outcome, reality is starting to sink in that this has turned from a rescue to a recovery situation. As they slowly wade through the water and mud their thoughts turn to the questions that need to be asked as to how another tragedy like this can be avoided. Should colorful kayaks be banned? Should laws be enacted to deter alligators from attacking people? Should warning signs be posted in the water warning of potential attacks by alligators?
No one knows for sure. And right now, the only thing that matters to the friends and family of Maggie Bennett is the recovery of her body so they can have closure.