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Community rallies as family speaks out on fatal alligator attack

A GoFundMe campaign to cover the funeral costs of the Largo woman killed by a 13-foot alligator on Friday has surpassed its $10,000 goal.

In the wake of the attack that killed 41-year-old Sabrina Peckham, her family is seeking answers while coping with their loss.

Peckham's body was discovered in a waterway near McKay Creek in Largo. This prompted the humane euthanasia of a 13-foot alligator during the investigation. Following the humane killing of the alligator, deputies assigned to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Dive Team recovered Peckham's remains.

Breauna Dorris, Peckham’s daughter, took to Facebook to address the incident. In her post, she refuted claims circulating in news comments that her mother provoked the alligator.

She revealed that her mother was a member of the community’s homeless population and resided in a nearby wooded area. The attack likely occurred while Peckham was traversing to or from her campsite in the dark, Dorris said.

“We can assume (what) happened is that she was going either to or from her campsite that she was sleeping at not too far from where they found her body, and it ended up grabbing her,” Dorris said in an interview with ClickOrlando.

The GoFundMe campaign that Dorris created to cover her mother’s funeral expenses has now raised more than $12,000 in three days. The campaign’s original goal was set at $10,000.

Though Dorris claims her mother was attacked, some believe that is unlikely.

Steven Johnson, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor at the University of Florida, said an attack like this is very rare. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports 26 fatalities resulting from alligator attacks in the state since 1948.

“Especially when you consider the number of people that are in Florida, as well as the number of alligators, it’s just extremely uncommon,” Johnson said.

The incident involving Peckham is a sobering reminder of the complexities surrounding interactions with wildlife. According to the medical examiner’s office, Peckham's manner and cause of death are still pending.

Residents with concerns about an alligator are urged to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286.

Ian is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing