Alligator Found Guarding Dead Body in Gated Community

A fatal alligator attack occurred on Monday morning in the gated community of Sun City in Hilton Head, South Carolina, police said.

At around 11:15 a.m. on Monday, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office received a call that an alligator near a pond within the gated community appeared to be "guarding" a body on the ground.

Police and officers from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are reportedly on the scene, as well as officials from the Beaufort County Coroner's Office. According to local news station The Island Packet, as of 12:50 p.m. local time, rescue efforts were still underway at the scene.

Florida Wildlife And Daily Life Scenes
In this photo, an alligator populates the Wakodahatchee Wetlands on June 27, in Delray Beach, Florida. An alligator reportedly fatally attacked a person in South Carolina on Monday morning. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The identity of the victim has yet to be released, and details regarding the attack are currently unknown, however, Major Angela Viens of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office told Newsweek that the victim was an adult female whose body has since been recovered from the lagoon.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is still on scene trying to locate the alligator, police said. Newsweek has reached out to the coroner's office for comment.

How Common Are Alligator Attacks?

Alligator attacks are fairly uncommon in the southeastern region of the United States, and in the summer, alligators are most active, meaning attacks can increase as more people find themselves outside or in the water.

While alligator attacks are rarer in South Carolina than in the state of Florida, for example, authorities still warn residents that attacks can happen. Since 2000, there have been 17 alligator-related attacks, and four deaths reported in South Carolina—the four deaths all occurring after 2016.

Several alligator attacks have occurred recently in the Southeastern states.

In Florida on August 4, a man was swimming before he was bitten in the face by an alligator. A witness reported they could hear the man's scream, and the man emerged from the water with a large gash on his face. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

An alligator also bit a 13-year-old girl near a boat ramp in Hardee County in late July. The girl was taken to the hospital and was in stable condition, and a hunt for the alligator was underway.

A woman fell into a pond in Boca Royale Golf and Country Club in Florida in early July and died after being attacked by two alligators lurking in the water.

And in June, an alligator in South Carolina killed a man after dragging him into a pond. When officials responded to the scene, they found the animal had taken "a hold of a neighbor who was near the edge of a retention pond and retreated" into the water.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, "Alligators are most dangerous in water or at the edge of water. They occasionally make forays over land in search of new habitat, mates or prey. Along waterways and lakes, concrete or wooden bulkheads that are at least 3 feet above the high water mark will discourage alligators from getting to land."

Update: 08/15/22 3:58 p.m.: This article was updated with comment from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.