Tuscaloosa, Alabama Woman Battles Menacing Alligator During Tropical Storm
A Tuscaloosa woman says she saw her life flash before her eyes when an alligator nearly flipped her car on a road flooded by one of the periods of intense rainfall earlier this month.
On June 19, Tuscaloosa experienced a severe thunderstorm brought on by Tropical Storm Claudette. The weather event devastated much of West Alabama, destroying some neighborhoods with its floods and resulting in the loss of two lives.
During the bad weather, Latosha Patton Starkey was driving on Kauloosa Ave around 8 p.m., trying to get home from her mother's house before the worst of the storm reached her neighborhood.
The further she drove, the more water she saw. Starkey was scared of getting stuck, so she decided to turn around. As she stopped her car, she noticed something in the flood waters.
Starkey figured it was a log, even though it was moving.
After a minute, she didn't see it anymore and continued to turn around, but then she felt something under her car.
The car started rising and turned on its right side, leaving Starkey suspended in the air. The floorboard started moving, almost coming up from the bottom. She had no idea what was happening.
When the car finally touched the ground, she looked in her rear-view mirror, then Starkey saw it: an alligator.
“I saw something with its mouth wide open,” Starkey said.
Although Starkey did not see the whole length of the alligator, she said she knows it must have been huge because it caused her car to rise so drastically.
The alligator then began to bite her back bumper, trying to pull it off.
“You could tell it was very vicious,” Starkey said.
Starkey immediately called her parents for help. Although she was only there for a few minutes, she said it felt like an hour, having no idea what was in store. Starkey's car was the only one on the road, and there were almost no lights lining the streets.
“I saw my life flash before my eyes, and to be honest, I could only call to Jesus,” she said.
Starkey was safely rescued, but she cannot say the same about her vehicle. She told The Tuscaloosa Thread that the bumper is damaged, the transmission is cracked, the floorboard is botched, the motor is flooded, and it "does not drive how it should."
Starkey described the whole situation as “very devastating.”
Through word of mouth, Starkey heard police had killed two alligators during and after the floods, but a spokesperson for the Tuscaloosa Police Department said they were not aware of any alligator-related incidents the department has handled recently.
Starkey said she believes she could have lost her life that night and wants the community to be aware of their surroundings on the off chance they come in contact with an alligator.
“This is a problem that needs to be addressed, people walk this road without knowing there could be an alligator,” she said.
In this “life or death situation," Starkey could hardly see from the lack of lights and the inability to tell the difference between the road and the ditch due to the flooding.
Starkey hopes that the city will do something about the issue on Kauloosa Avenue since she believes there could be more alligators coming from the swamp off Highway 11.
The road has never flooded as bad as it did that night, and that is an issue, Starkey said.
Starkey posted her experience on Facebook to warn Tuscaloosa residents. Check it out below: