A man who lost his dog in a tragic alligator attack last week has died of an apparent suicide.
The dog was reportedly killed after it became loose near a wetlands area.
“Most people, if they knew they were that close to marsh and gators, they wouldn’t walk back there,” Sharil Dowling, a witness to the incident, told the news station.
“I can’t imagine the anguish that guy was in.”
Another witness, Tim Todd, told WFLA that he is aware of three other fatal gator attacks against dogs in the five years he has been coming to the park. He said he believes there should be more warning signs for pet owners who may not be aware of the dangers.
“It was too late to do anything for that dog, but what could we do to help other people?” Todd asked.
Epp reportedly suffered from mental health challenges. It is unclear exactly how he died, but friends and family reportedly believe he took his own life due to grief over losing his dog.
“It was just such a sad situation, he couldn’t deal with it,” family friend Kayla Weston told the news station.
A GoFundMe campaign launched to help Epp’s grieving family describes the young man as a “gentle, beautiful soul,” and says that Epps’s family had tried to get him admitted to local facilities the night before he died. But the family was reportedly told that Epp could not be admitted because he did not state that he was intending to hurt himself.
According to the page, Epps’s mother has already lost two children: One to a brain tumor in 1980 and another son to suicide in 2005. Epp’s father also passed away in December 2018.
Donations to the GoFundMe campaign can be made here.