Bryan Zuniga was pulled over near St. Petersburg at around 2:45 a.m. Thursday (May 9), for swerving in and out of lanes in his 1995 Nissan SUV. He decided not to chance getting a ticket (or busted for DUI?), so he booked it away from his truck, and a Pinella County deputy.
After hopping a fence, Zuniga’s run came to an end when an alligator behind a water-treatment plant attacked, biting him in the face and arm.
The 20-year-old somehow made it to a hospital where he recounted the incident, yet mentioned nothing about getting pulled over and running from the deputy. “He just said he was attacked by the alligator,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Cristen Rensel said. “It’s still unclear how he got [to the hospital].”
The St. Petersburg police called the hospital, which informed them of the “animal attack,” and Zuniga’s faux statement. “He stated he was watching fish jump when he fell in and was attacked by an alligator,” read the police report.
Since the reporting officer was in a different jurisdiction, the Sheriff’s office was contacted. It didn’t take authorities long to realize that Zuniga was the man who ran away from a deputy hours earlier.
Zuniga was released from the hospital later in the day, and booked into the Pinella County Jail for fleeing and alluding, driving with a suspended or revoked license, resisting an officer without violence, and breaking or injuring fences.
He was held in lieu of $6,300 bail.
Photo: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office