A woman who was walking her dog was killed in an alligator attack in South Carolina Tuesday morning, authorities said, marking the second fatal gator attack in the county in less than a year.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded at about 9:30 Tuesday morning to a report of a possible alligator attack near a lagoon bordering a golf course in the Spanish Wells community on Hilton Head Island. A 69-year-old resident of the community was located at the edge of the lagoon and appeared to be unresponsive, officials said.
“Rescue efforts were made and an alligator appeared and was guarding the woman, interrupting emergency efforts,” the sheriff’s office said. “The gator was safely removed from the area and the woman’s body was recovered.”
Deputies determined that the woman was walking her dog earlier in the morning when she was attacked by the alligator. The dog was found safe, Major Angela Viens, a sheriff’s office spokesperson, told the Associated Press.
The Beaufort County Coroner’s Office will perform an autopsy on the woman.
In a tweet, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said its “biologists and officers are responding” to the incident.
The incident comes less than a year after another woman was fatally attacked by an alligator in Beaufort County. On August 15 last year, an 88-year-old Sun City woman was killed by an alligator at a lagoon near her home.
Fatal alligator attacks in South Carolina had never been reported until recent years.
In 2020, deputies shot and killed an alligator that fatally attacked a 58-year-old woman on Kiawah Island, South Carolina
In 2019, a man was found dead on Kiawah Island with what authorities believed to be alligator bite marks but it was unclear how the man initially died.
In 2016, a 90-year-old woman walked out of a Charleston nursing home in 2016 and was killed by a gator, while a 45-year-old woman walking her dog was fatally attacked on Hilton Head Island in August 2018.
Prior to those attacks, South Carolina had never recorded a person fatally attacked by an alligator.