The woman was walking her small dog near a lagoon behind her home in the Rookery community of Hilton Head Plantation around 8:15 a.m. Thursday morning when an alligator dragged her into the lagoon by her legs, Hilton Head Plantation officials said in an email.
A neighbor saw the attack and quickly got her husband, who grabbed a shovel and beat the alligator until it let go of the woman, according to official. The neighbors both got into the lagoon to save the woman, according to town of Hilton Head officials.
The neighbor then called 911.
Hilton Head Plantation Security, Hilton Head Fire Rescue and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene on Rookery Way.
The woman was stabilized before being transported to Savannah Memorial hospital, according to officials.
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The woman’s legs were injured in the attack, but officials were not aware of the extent of her injuries. Her family was immediately notified and the woman was able to speak to her daughter on the way to the hospital, according to officials.
Another email from Hilton Head Plantation officials said the woman is “OK.”
On scene, Hilton Head Plantation security staff and sheriff’s deputies monitored the alligator believed to be responsible for the attack until S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials arrived.
“The alligator will be euthanized and examined to see if the alligator was being fed,” Hilton Head Plantation officials said.
Hilton Head Plantation officials said they were thankful for the neighbor’s courageous and swift actions.
“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 by the alligator,” Hilton Head Plantation officials said Thursday. “We are also most grateful for the work of our Security Officers and HHI Fire and Rescue, who treated the victim at the scene and transported the victim to the hospital, SCDNR, for their quick response to remove the alligator and the Beaufort County Sherriff’s Deputies for their quick response and assistance.”
The woman’s dog was not injured, according to officials
Officials cleared the scene around 10:30 a.m.
This is the second time in nearly three years a Hilton Head woman has been attacked by an alligator.
On August 20, 2018, Cassandra “Sassie” Cline was killed by an alligator in the Sea Pines community on Hilton Head Island.
Cline, like the woman who was attacked today, was also walking her dog near a lagoon when the attack occurred.
The first reported fatal alligator attack in South Carolina occurred in 2016 when a 90-year-old Charleston woman wandered away from an assisted living facility and was attacked in a nearby lagoon.
Since then, there have been two other fatal attacks — Cline in 2018 and Cynthia Covert on John’s Island in 2020.
While alligator attacks are rare in South Carolina, they are becoming more common as more humans move to alligator-populated areas.
SCDNR biologists told FITSNews that while there is no magic number for a safe distance between you and a predator, “staying at least 10 feet from the water’s edge whether you see an alligator or not is a good starting point.”
“Alligators have lived in South Carolina ponds, lakes, and marshlands for millions of years,” Morgan Hart of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources told FITSNews. “As more people move to the state and development increases in coastal areas, the likelihood of encountering an alligator also increases.”
After every alligator attack resulting in human injury or death, SCDNR experts conduct an investigation where they interview witnesses and examine the gator to see if there is evidence of feeding by people, injury, or disease.
More than half of all South Carolina alligator attacks have occured in Beaufort County, according to SCDNR records.
This story will be updated.
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