Jennifer Rosinski survived a deadly encounter with an alligator Tuesday night.
The 34-year-old attorney’s confrontation with the 9-foot reptile didn’t come deep in the Everglades or on the edge of a backyard lake, but on northbound Interstate 75 near North Port in Sarasota County.
At about 9:15 p.m., Rosinski saw what she initially thought was a fox bolt in front of her vehicle. Rosinski had no chance to avoid the collision, sending the Ford Escape into a counter-clockwise spin before overturning at least a half-dozen times.
Rosinski, miraculously, survived with a cut under her right eye and some bruising.
The gator wasn’t so lucky. Photos taken at the scene show the animal was likely struck on the front end of its body resulting in gruesome damage.
“I’ve never been in a significant accident before, and the first one I’m in is car vs. alligator,” said Rosinski, a mother of four and a resident of Cooper City in Broward County. “Are you kidding me?”
The Ford Escape, a company car owned by Rosinski’s employer, was destroyed. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper told Rosinski the vehicle likely went airborne before it began rolling. Rosinski escaped the vehicle with the help of bystanders by crawling out the vehicle’s rear door.
“I thought I hit a fox because it was moving so fast,” Rosinski said. “They said, ‘You hit an alligator.’ I said, ‘What?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, it’s right over there.’”
There are more than 1 million alligators in Florida, but a check of news databases indicates they rarely are involved in serious crashes.
According to the Marco Island Fire Department, a fatal crash in September may have been caused by an alligator in the road that resulted in the driver losing control and overturning into mangroves.
But Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Gregory S. Bueno said such encounters are rare, if they happen at all, around the area where Rosinski crashed.
“You expect to see something like that on Alligator Alley,” Bueno said of the stretch of I-75 that runs west of Fort Lauderdale and east of Naples. “Typically, in that part of Sarasota County, you see incidents involving deer or maybe a cow that got out of a fence. But alligators? No.”
As the Ford Escape rolled repeatedly, Rosinski said she gained strength thinking of her children — ages 14, 10, 4 and 9 months.
That she lived through the death-defying crash wasn’t nearly as shocking to Rosinski as what caused it.
“I was like, ‘An alligator? What the hell?’ ” Rosinski said. “Who knew?”
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