Just before a Johns Island, South Carolina woman was attacked by an alligator, the woman’s friend saw her taking photos of the creature, according to a recently released Charleston County Sheriff’s Office report.
Cynthia Covert, 58, died Friday in a vicious alligator attack on Kiawah Island. Her cause of death was accidental drowning, according to a detailed incident report released Tuesday by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Covert’s friend said she was acting “very relaxed” and talkative Friday afternoon. When police asked if she had alcohol or drugs, the friend said Covert came over with a glass of wine and that’s all she saw her drinking.
Covert was at the woman’s Kiawah Island home to do her nails, according to the report. When asked how exactly Covert was acting “not her self,” the friend said she wasn’t acting like she was when she was at the salon.
As the two women were on the back porch, Covert saw the alligator and was “fascinated” by it, according to the report. She noticed Covert was moving dangerously close to the alligator and screamed “very loudly” for her to get back and not get any closer to the water.
Covert’s friend then warned her to get back, according the report. Covert ignored her. She told Covert an alligator grabbed a deer from that same spot days earlier.
“Covert replied ‘I don’t look like a deer’ then moved to touch the [alligator], ” the report says.
The alligator then grabbed Covert by the leg, and dragged her in the water, the report said. She was about 4 feet from the water when it happened.
A neighbor heard the commotion and threw Covert a rope in the pond, according to the repot. A witness saw Covert grab the rope.
“Covert was about waist-deep in the water and she stated in a very calm voice ‘I guess I won’t do this again’ as they tried to pull her from the water,” a witness told police.
The witness said the alligator started to roll in the water and Covert lost the rope and went under.
“[Covert’s friend] stated her husband went down and grabbed a shovel and she called 911,”the report said. “She stated her husband tried hitting the alligator as the alligator kept dragging her friend back into the water.”
Covert never screamed during the deadly attack, the woman told police.
“She stated her husband tried to save her friend, but the alligator dragged her under the water,” the report said.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident on Salt Cedar Lane, Kiawah Island around 5 p.m. Friday. An officer “observed the alligator and the victim surface” in the water,” the report said.
First responders were then able to pull the woman’s body from the water. A deputy shot and killed an alligator closest to the woman’s body upon arrival to the scene.
“Her body was intact with severe wounds to her left leg,” the report said.
Covert was described by friends as “a beautifully spirited woman” who “brought joy to everyone she met.” According to her Facebook page, she worked at Prime Cuts salon.
May is mating season for alligators in South Carolina, which means alligators are more active this time of the year. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials urge residents and tourists to never feed alligators as it makes them more aggressive toward humans. It’s also very important for humans to keep their distance from these creatures, experts stress.
While alligator attacks are rare in South Carolina, they are becoming more common as more humans move to alligator-populated areas.
As of August, there were 23 total alligator attacks since 1915, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. 14 of those attacks occurred in Beaufort County according to SCDNR records.
“There could be more that we aren’t aware of,” SCDNR alligator program director, Jay Butfiloski previously said,. “From our records, there wasn’t an attack from 1915 to 1976, but that could just be because they weren’t newsworthy back then.”
This attack is the fourth reported in Charleston County history, according to SCDNR records.
“This unfortunate tragedy reminds citizens to be alert and cautious around our Lowcountry wildlife,” Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. “The Sheriff’s Office urges the public to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].