Alligator Attacks South Carolina Woman, Drags Her Into Lagoon by Her Legs

A South Carolina woman was attacked by an eight-foot-long alligator while walking her dog on Thursday morning.

The attack occurred near a lagoon on Hilton Head Island on the state's Atlantic coast, according to local officials.

The woman was walking at about 8:15 a.m. when the alligator dragged her into the lagoon by her legs, officials from the Hilton Head Plantation gated community told South Carolina news outlet FITSNews.

A neighbor witnessed the attack and tried to pull the victim back to safety. Unable to do so, she alerted her husband, who went to grab a shovel before hitting the alligator with the tool until the animal released the victim.

The neighbor subsequently called 911 and officials from Hilton Head Fire Rescue, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, and the Hilton Head Plantation security team responded to the scene.

Emergency responders managed to stabilize the woman before rushing her to a hospital in Savannah.

The woman was treated for wounds to her legs, although the extent of her injuries is not currently clear. Hilton Head Plantation officials told FITSNews that the woman was "OK" following her attack, and that she had spoken to her daughter on the way to the hospital.

Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue Deputy Chief told local South Carolina news outlet WSAV: "This is an unfortunate incident. We advise residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially if they are taking walks with small pets near lagoons that are habitats for alligators."

David Lucas, a spokesperson from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) told WSAV Thursday that the agency would examine the alligator involved in the attack to see whether or not it had been fed by humans.

Feeding alligators can lead the animals to start associating people with food, Lucas said. The department arranged for the alligator to be removed from the neighborhood and the animal will eventually be euthanized.

Hilton Head Plantation officials praised the actions of the neighbors who rushed to the woman's aid.

"We are very grateful for the quick thinking and brave neighbors who fought off the alligator and held onto the victim who was being pulled into the water," they told FITSNews.

Alligators are not uncommon on Hilton Head Island, but attacks on humans are rare in the area, and the state in general. Nevertheless, these kinds of incidents are becoming more common in South Carolina as humans encroach further into alligator habitats.

"Alligators have lived in South Carolina ponds, lakes, and marshlands for millions of years," Morgan Hart from the DNR told FITSNews. "As more people move to the state and development increases in coastal areas, the likelihood of encountering an alligator also increases."

Newsweek has contacted Hilton Head Plantation for comment.

An alligator
Stock image showing an alligator. A South Carolina woman was attacked by an alligator while walking her dog on Thursday. iStock