The alligator run-in occurred as Zuniga was hiding behind a water treatment plant near Tampa, having just bolted from his car after a 2:40 am traffic stop nearby. The gator attacked Zuniga, mangling his arms and face severely enough to require a hospital trip.
Meanwhile, as Zuniga was hiding/being mauled by an alligator, the deputies who'd been chasing him issued an alert to local law enforcement officers. Several hours later, they received word from the St. Petersburg police, telling them a man that matched the description was being treated for “animal attack.”
Initially, Zuniga lied about how he was attacked, telling a St. Petersburg cop he “was watching fish jump when he fell in and was attacked by an alligator.” But once the sheriff's deputies arrived, having made the connection between the attack and the botched traffic stop, Zuniga confessed, though he didn't provide many details.
"He just said he was attacked by the alligator," said sheriff's spokeswoman Cristen Rensel. "It's still unclear how he got (to the hospital)."
Upon his release from the hospital, Zuniga was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on charges of breaking or injuring fences (which apparently is its own crime), fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended or revoked license and resisting an officer without violence.
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