Woman found dead near 13-foot alligator has been identified, Florida deputies say

The body of a woman found late last week near a 13-foot, 8.5-inch male alligator in a water canal has been identified, Florida authorities say.

Around 2 p.m. Friday, deputies responded to the area of 134th Avenue North and 121st Street North in unincorporated Largo after receiving a report of a body spotted in the waterway, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

With the assistance of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the alligator was killed and removed from the water. Then, deputies were able to safely recover the woman’s remains.

On Saturday evening, the sheriff’s office identified the deceased as 41-year-old Sabrina Peckham. According to the local medical examiner’s office, the manner and cause of death is pending.

The record for the longest alligator found in Florida is a 14 foot 3-1/2 inch male from Lake Washington harvested in Brevard County in 2010, according to the FWC. Generally, an alligator may be considered a nuisance if it’s at least 4 feet in length and believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.

In a Facebook post, a woman who said was Peckham’s daughter, Breauna Dorris, said her mother was houseless and that she lived in a nearby wooded area.

“It is believed that she may have been walking to or from her camp site near the creek in the dark and the alligator attacked from the water,” Dorris said.

Dorris started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for her mother’s cremation and other related expenses. As of Sunday night, it had raised nearly $5,000.

“I pray you are at peace and you are no longer struggling or hurting,” Dorris said. “I pray you found momo and pop and you all are watching down from above.”

Undated photo of Sabrina Peckham and her daughter, Breauna Dorris. The body of Peckham, 41, was found near a large alligator in Pinellas County, Florida on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.
Undated photo of Sabrina Peckham and her daughter, Breauna Dorris. The body of Peckham, 41, was found near a large alligator in Pinellas County, Florida on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

How to prevent alligator attacks in Florida

Fatal alligator bites are rare in Florida but they can happen to anyone, according to authorities.

As the state continues to experience tremendous human population growth, and many residents seek waterfront homes, there is a greater potential for conflict, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says.

READ MORE: Alligator kills 85-year-old woman walking her dog in a Florida neighborhood, FWC says

There were nine major and two minor alligator bites on people in Florida in 2022, and none of those were fatal, according to FWC’s latest data updated in December of that year.

To prevent fatal encounters with alligators, check out these safety tips from the FWC:

Make sure pets are leashed and at least 10 feet from the water’s edge because they can resemble alligators’ natural prey.

Swim only during the day and in designated areas because alligators are most active at dusk and dawn.

Don’t allow your pet to swim or drink water in marshes, swamps, rivers and lakes.

Don’t feed alligators as they might learn to associate people with food. It is also illegal!

Tell others that feeding alligators is prohibited.

Don’t feed ducks and turtles because attracting prey animals can encourage alligators to come closer to shore.

Dispose of fish scraps only in designated waste containers because they attract alligators if left in or near the water.

Keep a safe distance when observing or photographing alligators.

These safety tips can also apply to crocodiles.

Anyone who has a concern regarding an alligator should call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286.