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Friend wonders whether man was actually killed by a gator in Largo

Earlier in the year, Sean McGuinness' friend says he was struggling with epilepsy and having several seizures a day.

LARGO, Fla. — The unexpected news was shocking, to say the least. Ryan McKinley had just been notified his best friend was dead.

"I'd been waiting on the call, but I never thought it would be this. They called me that morning and told me what had happened. He had always done this," McKinley said.

Largo police say 47-year-old Sean McGuinness was at Taylor Lake searching for golf discs in the water before he died. Officials with Florida Fish and Wildlife say he was bitten by an alligator.

"I was very sad and I was angry. Couldn't believe it really at first because he'd done it for so long," McKinley explained.

McKinley says McGuinness was known on the course – not just for playing disc golf, but he's one of at least three guys who would go into the water to find any discs that were lost.

"There are stores around here that will give you $5 a piece for those frisbees or the discs. He could go in the pond and get 20 or 30 of them out in 30 or 40 minutes," the friend said. "He would just walk out there, move his feet around, and they would just pop up. They're just $5 bills to him, so that's how he lived. 

"He made $100-$250 a day and he was just doing it so he could eat. If they weren't doing that maybe he wouldn't have been in there."

McKinley says his friend lived in the park after living with his family for eight years. Earlier in the year, McKinley says McGuinness was struggling with epilepsy, having several seizures a day. 

That's why McKinley still has questions about how his friend died.

"I'm kind of still waiting to find out if a gator attacked him, or if he had a seizure and from him flopping in the water it would attract a gator to him. I don't know yet if that's what it was, or if a gator really did attack him," McKinley said.

FWC removed two gators from the lake, but necropsies show neither of the scaly reptiles was involved in the attack.

"Sean would be really, really mad, and upset about the gators. He knew what he was doing and he loved reptiles. He was in their house and they were just doing what they know to do," McKinley said.

While officials investigate, McKinley wants McGuinness to be remembered as a kind soul.

"Not many people really know the real Sean like I did. He was the most giving non-selfish person that I've ever met," McKinley explained. "At the end of the day, all he wanted was to be loved and to have a family. God dealt him a really, really tough hand."

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