According to local sources, a car carrying two occupants plunged into an alligator-infested pond near Miami on Friday, necessitating a complex rescue operation including rescue divers and police snipers.
A Florida Highway Patrol representative informed WSVN 7 News that Nieves Matos, 80, and her son, Mario Laza, 56, were traveling along the Florida Turnpike when their vehicle lost control and crashed, going off the road and into a pond.
According to WSVN, some witnesses to the accident dove into the sea to assist. The mother and boy were finally rescued from the underwater car by rescue diving personnel.
As shown in footage from WSVN’s live stream of the perilous rescue effort, snipers were trained on the pond to protect divers from alligators.
Both victims were taken to a nearby hospital by paramedics, but Laza died. According to local accounts, his mother has survived but is still in critical condition.
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Loved ones say the mother and kid were submerged for over 10 minutes while surrounded by alligators, making it difficult for police to bring them out in time, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Laza’s funeral expenses.
According to a translation of the fundraiser website in Spanish, Laza “was a person that you would never forget simply by meeting him once.” “With a big heart and a distinct personality, he was someone full of life, laughing, and good times to share.”