A troubled man commits suicide one day after his beloved service dog was mauled to death by an alligator in Florida.
Andrew Epp, 36, was found dead less than 24 hours after his chocolate-colored dog, Java, was mauled to death by a reptile at Dog Leg Park in Palmetto.
The tragic series of events began on May 17 when Andrew Epp made a harrowing discovery that his dog has been attacked and killed by an alligator.
Epp was outside a fenced area of the park with his service dog before Java came loose from his leash.
The service dog then ran towards a nearby marshy area, where he encountered with the reptile.
According to a witness, Sharil Dowling, she saw a man with a dead dog covered with blood slumped over his shoulders.
Sharil Dowling told WFLA news:
"Most people, if they knew they were that close to marsh and gators, they wouldn't walk back there."
"I can't imagine the anguish that guy was in. It was horrible."
Dowling reported that the pet might have got loose from the owner while the two were at the park.
According to the news reports, Andrew Epp had been reported suffering from mental health issues.
The alligators had killed three other dogs at this park for the last five years, one of the locals reported.
After the dog was killed, Epp was so disturbed by his beloved dog's incident that his family begged local health facilities to admit him.
According to the GoFundMe page,
"The family was turned away and told that, because Epp wasn't vocalizing that he wanted to hurt himself, the earliest he could even see a doctor was August 2019."
Kayla Weston, a neighbor and family friend, told the WFLA news outlet:
"It was just such a sad situation, he couldn't deal with it."
The GoFundMe site is remembering Epp as a 'beautiful, gentle soul.' It adds that he 'loved the outdoors, fishing, camping, horticulture, and animals.'
Following these tragic incidences, Tim Todd, a frequent Visitor to Dog Leg Park, reached out to the local authorities demanding warning signs around the area to create awareness of the deadly alligators.
Alligator and snake signs were later installed. The local officers instituted to capture the reptile, but it hasn't been caught yet.
Gator trappers has also been put around the park.
The family is facing tragic losses. Epp's brother, Paul, also took his own life in 2005.
Ms. Epp said after the incidence:
"The thing is, often those considering suicide don't vocalize their plans. And they can be turned away in the moments that help is most needed."