Woman Killed by Alligator After Slipping While Gardening: Sheriff

The body of an 88-year-old woman killed by an alligator after slipping into a pond while gardening was found Monday in a residential community for older adults in South Carolina, according to authorities.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the incident, said officials received a 911 call around 11:15 a.m. on Monday from a Sun City Hilton Head resident, who reported that a large alligator was guarding what was believed to be a human body, news station WTOC reported.

When emergency services personnel arrived on the scene, they found the alligator near the body of Nancy Becker, a Sun City Hilton Head resident. Officials believe the woman was gardening near the pond when she slipped into the water, where she was attacked by the alligator.

Newsweek contacted the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and Sun City Hilton Head for comment.

An alligator in Florida. An 88-year-old woman from South Carolina was killed by an alligator while gardening. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

According to the sheriff's office, the woman's body was recovered around 1 p.m. As of 3 p.m., South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials were still trying to remove the alligator.

Since then, the 9-foot, 8-inch reptile has been removed from the pond and euthanized, officials said.

The incident has reportedly stirred concern in Sun City Hilton Head, a gated community that has several ponds spread across its 5,725 acres, 1,500 of which are open land and wetlands, according to its website.

Major Angela Viens, a public information officer with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, told The New York Times, the incident was the second alligator attack in the community in five years but the first one to be fatal.

"Alligators usually are not aggressive toward humans," says the SCDNR on its website, adding that attacks are more common within alligators bigger than 8 feet. Most alligator attacks, which have been reported through the years in Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Alabama, aren't deadly.

This was the fourth alligator death this year and the second in South Carolina, where a man, whose identity was not disclosed, was killed near a pond near Myrtle Beach on June 24. In that case, SCDNR officials decided to euthanize the alligator.

In South Carolina alone, this was the fifth fatal alligator attack since 2000, according to the SCDNR and the sheriff's office.

Summer, with its hot weather, is the most active time of the year for alligators, which stop feeding when the temperature drops below 70 and become dormant below 55.

During this season, the SCDNR warns that ponds and waterways at golf courses and high-density housing are areas at risk of alligator attacks, as those are sites where the reptiles have likely become accustomed to living near people.

"In the rare event that you are attacked, awareness of alligator behavior may save your life," says the SCDNR's website. "Alligators clamp down with powerful jaws, then twist and roll. If an alligator bites your arm, it may help to grab the alligator and roll with it to reduce tearing of the arm. Strike the nose of the alligator hard and often, and try to gouge the eyes. If at all possible, do not allow the alligator to pull you into the water."

Other recommendations include staying clear of bodies of water and not bringing pets close to alligators, which are known to attack them.