Woman attacked by alligator in Hillsborough

Thonotosassa, Florida -- A 20-year-old woman who was bitten by an alligator Thursday afternoon while canoeing down the Hillsborough River has been released from Tampa General Hospital.

Andrea Reese and a friend from Ohio went canoeing Thursday afternoon at John Sargeant Park on 12702 U.S. Hwy. 301 in North Tampa.

About 45 minutes down river, a 6-foot alligator jumped into their canoe and bit Reese on the thigh and calf.

"It's unusual for a gator to approach a canoe," said Baryl Martin, a spokesperson with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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One of the women called 911 at around 1:45 p.m. and a Hillsborough County sheriff's helicopter was launched to conduct a search.

Once the victim was spotted, rescue crews on the ground with the assistance of the canoe rental company manager, got into a canoe to rescue the victim.

"Me and three other paramedics went out, got to the girl, brought her to an ambulance," said Michael Cole.

The victim was taken to Tampa General Hospital to be treated for her injuries. She was released later Thursday evening.

Florida Fish and Wildlife says it doesn't appear that those the women agitated the gator before the attack.

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"At this point it appears to be unprovoked from the information that we've received," said Martin.

Because the attack was considered a freak accident, canoe rentals continued through the afternoon.

FWC has contacted a trapper who is expected to remove the alligator and euthanize it.

"Once they start losing their fear of humans is when they become a danger to people," Martin said.

GALLERY: Alligator Pictures

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