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GATOR OVERWATCH: Snipers cover divers as they try to save woman and her son from alligator-infested pond

Rescue divers in Florida received cover from snipers when they tried to rescue Mario Laza and his mother who had fallen into alligator-infested waters
UPDATED MAY 31, 2022
Mario Laza (inset) died after he and his mother were rescued by divers and snipers from an alligator-infested pond in Miami, Florida (GoFundMe and WSVN)
Mario Laza (inset) died after he and his mother were rescued by divers and snipers from an alligator-infested pond in Miami, Florida (GoFundMe and WSVN)

MIAMI SPRINGS, FLORIDA: A team of rescue divers in Florida received cover from snipers when they were trying to save a woman and her son after their minivan fell into alligator-infested waters on Friday, May 27. Snipers lay on their stomachs on the side of the Florida Turnpike in Miami as others walked around the perimeters. 

They braved to save Mario Laza, 56, and his mother Nieves Matos, 80. As of now, Laza passed away at the hospital, while Matos is still battling for her life as she is in critical condition. As reported by WSVN, the mother-son duo were traveling to the Florida Turnpike in their blue Toyota minivan right before noon.


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WSVN added that when the driver attempted to exit onto westbound Southwest Eighth Street, he lost control when trying to navigate the right curve of an exit ramp. Florida Highway Patrol Lt Alex Camacho said, "The vehicle lost control, overturned driving off of the roadway into the pond. Dive teams from fire rescue and Miami-Dade Police did their search and rescue, and were able to rescue an adult female and adult male inside of the vehicle at the time."

Later, the car was pulled out of the water and was towed away. Witnesses entered the gator-infested waters to look for the passengers but when they realized that the waterbody was filled with alligators and there were chances of potential attacks, they called for a team of snipers.

Eventually, they were able to locate the vehicle with both the victims inside. First responders gave CPR to the woman and both were transported to HCA Florida Kendall Hospital in a critical state. Laza succumbed to his injuries later. He was a mechanic at a gas station in Miami Springs and was described as a beloved friend and coworker. Yusle Disperez said, "I miss his smile, everything, how he talked, everything. To me, we lost the light of this gas station."

Disperez shared a video from their Facebook page where Laza is seen laughing and dancing and having the time of his life. Carlos Borras, another one of Laza's friends, said, "We are in shock right now for this situation, but I hope he rests in peace." Laza's mother is in the hospital in critical condition. 

The City of Miami Springs mourned the loss of Mario Laza in a post on Facebook (Facebook)

"The City of Miami Springs mourns the loss of 56 year old Mario Laza who was a long time mechanic at the Westar Gas Station on the circle. We send our condolences to Mario’s family, Mario’s mother was also in the vehicle and is in critical condition and we wish her a speedy and full recovery. RIP Mario," the official page of the City of Miami Springs posted on Facebook.

The mother and son duo have a GoFundMe page that is short of just $1000 and has gathered almost $5000 from 91 donations. It is titled 'MERME funeral costs and Nieves medical costs' and states that 'Laza is a memorable person, you would never forget by just meeting him once'. "He was someone full of life, laughter, and good times to share, with a giant heart and a unique personality," the GoFundMe page reads.