A woman was attacked by an alligator Monday morning in Hilton Head, according to Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Captain Bob Bromage. The attack took place at Sea Pines Plantation, a gated community along the southern coast of Hilton Head Island.
According to Fox News, a woman was seen walking a dog near the lagoon around 9:30 a.m. According to surveillance footage, the alligator dragged her into the lagoon and pulled her beneath the surface of the water. Rescuers were able to retrieve the victim from the water, but she succumbed to her injuries once on the shore.
The sheriff’s office spokesman identified the victim as 45-year-old Cassandra Cline of Hilton Head Island. The Associated Press reported that the dog, who Cline was attempting to protect, did not appear to suffer any injuries.
Officials soon located the 8-foot animal believed to have been responsible for the attack on Cline. The alligator was “dispatched at the scene.”
Investigators from the Department of Natural Resources, the sheriff’s office, and the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office were on the scene Monday afternoon. An autopsy will be conducted later this week to determine the cause of death.
Sea Pines Community Services Associates offered condolences and pledged their full support of the investigation in a Facebook post.
“Sea Pines CSA is actively working with local authorities to ensure necessary access to the site while the investigation is underway. At this time, little information is available about the individual or incident. We are extremely saddened by this news and will share information with the community as it is made available.”
The area is home to the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, the native habitat of a variety of wildlife, including turtles, birds, and alligators. Despite their prevalence in the region, alligator attacks are incredibly rare, as noted by a Department of Natural Resources fact sheet.
Alligators usually are not aggressive toward humans. Unprovoked attacks by alligators smaller than 5 feet are rare, but unusual behavior does occur. Single bites are usually made by alligators that are less than 8 feet long.
In a comment to The Post and Courier, South Carolina DNR spokesman Captain Robert McCullough said this was the second time in South Carolina history a person was killed in an alligator attack. In 2016, a Charleston woman’s body was found in a pond near a senior living facility. Investigators determined her injuries were consistent with those typically seen in an alligator attack.