Driver hits 8-foot gator on Ashley Phosphate, calls 911 - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Driver hits 8-foot gator on Ashley Phosphate, calls 911

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Motorists headed to work on Friday morning might have been expecting some wind and rain, but they certainly weren't expecting what they saw on Ashley Phosphate Road.

A driver said to a 911 dispatch operator, "I'm on Ashley Phosphate Road, I hit an alligator. You ran over one? Yes."

North Charleston police blocked off traffic near the Stokes Mazda dealership to deal with an alligator lying in the road. A biologist for the Department of Natural Resources says the gator was about 8-feet long.

The driver said, "It's in the middle of the road and I don't think I can move it myself. I almost wrecked when I hit it."

Rob Vanwormer, owner of Southern Trappers has been trapping animals that pose a risk to humans for about 7 years here in the Lowcountry.

"All the water is coming in off the streets, out the drain pipes and these gators are able to travel up the creeks looking for more food and they wind up in places that they've never been before. Like up on Ashley Phosphate."

Vanwormer didn't handle this particular gator, but over his career he's caught more than 50 around the Charleston area. He considers a gator that is 8 to 10 feet long to be large and dangerous.

"They can do short bursts, short running bursts so if you stay away for at least 20 feet, I would say at least 100 feet, but I know how curious people can be. They run for about 20 mph for the first 20 feet or so," said Vanwormer.

The gator was dead when DNR investigators arrived, officials say. The driver who called 911 believes someone had already hit the gator before he did.

"I'm pretty sure it's dead with the amount of blood that was already on the road," said the driver to the 911 dispatcher.

Vanwormer believes it would take something a lot bigger than a car to kill a gator of that size.

"I suspect to kill a gator like that; it had to be something bigger, more like a semi-truck something that couldn't swerve as fast," said Vanwormer.

Although they can be dangerous, Vanwormer does say alligators play a vital role in a habitat.

Two lanes of traffic were closed for about an hour. One lane of traffic was reopened by 6:45 a.m., and the scene was cleared a short time later.

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved

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