Florida Man, 59, Killed in Car Crash After Colliding with 11-Foot Alligator in Roadway

John Hopkins, 59, died Thursday morning when he inadvertently hit a large alligator with his vehicle, causing him to veer off of the roadway and crash

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A 59-year-old man was killed just after midnight on Thursday when he collided with an 11-foot alligator while driving down a Florida road.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, driver John Hopkins was traveling down a road in Lithia when he struck the large reptile around 12:30 a.m.

The impact caused Hopkins' vehicle to veer off the roadway, where it overturned and landed in a ditch.

"A motorist passing by in the area noticed the car in the ditch and called 911," the department said in a statement, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

Detectives responded to the crash and pronounced Hopkins dead at the scene. The alligator was also killed in the accident.

Hopkins also lived in Lithia, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

John Hopkins

According to the Miami Herald, the incident occurred just a couple of miles from Alafia River State Park, which is home to a population of alligators.

Alligators are native to Florida and have lived in the state's marshes, swamps, rivers, and lakes for centuries, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The animal is also a large part of Floridian life.

According to the Key West Aquarium, Gainesville — home of the Florida Gators college football team — has the largest population of alligators in the United States. Gatorland, a theme park dedicated to alligators, is also located just a short drive from Disney World.

In all, the FWC believes there are around 1.3 million alligators in the state's 67 counties.

RELATED VIDEO: Massive Alligator Devours Smaller Gator in Viral Video from a South Carolina Backyard

On average, the size of an average male alligator is 11.2 feet, while female alligators are typically three feet smaller, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. The largest male alligators can weigh nearly half a ton or 1,000 pounds.

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