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Body surrounded by alligators found in Tampa Bay lake

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(WFTS-TV image)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A severely decomposed body was found Thursday morning in a Pinnelas County lake, surrounded by alligators.

The St. Petersburg Police Department told WFTS-TV the body "with alligator involvement" found in the mangroves at the southeast corner of Lake Maggiore was so badly decomposed they couldn’t determine race or gender.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Otis Crawford and Patricia Kays spotted the body around 8 a.m. Thursday. Crawford says they were eating breakfast in their car when they saw alligators dragging the remains in the water. 

“I seen the gator chomping on it," Crawford said. “So I walked out onto the dock out there, took a video and kind’ve determined it’s something. I’m glad I noticed before the gator got the body into the bushes and then nobody would have ever known.”

St. Petersburg police PIO Yolanda Fernandez told WFTS several gators scattered when they retrieved the body from the lake. She added that while the gators scattered it doesn't mean that's how the person died since gators are known to be scavengers.

Fire Rescue crews removed the body and a medical examiner will determine the person's death.

“At this time, we cannot call it an alligator attack, simply that there were alligators around the body when we found it and that made it a little more difficult in getting to it,” Fernandez said. “In a case like this, we definitely want to check the shoreline so we’ve asked fire rescue to go around in the boat to see if maybe there are any personal effects, a backpack, information, a wallet.”