An 88-year-old woman was killed in an alligator attack in South Carolina on Monday, officials said, the second fatal attack in the state in 2022 and at least the fourth one nationwide this year.
Deputies with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office were notified around 11:15 a.m. about an alligator that looked like it was "standing guard" beside a human body near a pond in Sun City Hilton Head, a gated adult community city just north of Savannah, Georgia, Maj. Angela Viens told USA TODAY.
Emergency services were able to recover the woman's body, identified as Nancy A. Becker, around 1 p.m., the sheriff's office said in a news release.
Authorities said Becker, a Sun City resident, was gardening near the pond when she slipped into the water, where the alligators was present.
Officials said the alligator was 9-foot, 8-inch male. It was removed from the pond Monday afternoon and euthanized. Beaufort County Coroner David Ott said Becker's autopsy will be done at the South Medical University of South Carolina.
Viens said when she left the scene at 3 p.m., officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources were still attempting to capture the alligator.
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Sun City Hilton Head is over 5,725 acres, 1,500 acres of which are open land and wetlands, according to its website. Viens estimated there are over 200 ponds and lagoons in the community.
This is the fourth confirmed fatal alligator attack in the United States this year and second one in South Carolina. A man was killed near a retention pond just outside of Myrtle Beach on June 24.
Spring and summertime is usually when there is an increase in alligator activity, as it's typically when they breed and look for new habitats.
However, experts say alligator attacks - especially fatal ones - are rare. This was the fifth fatal alligator attack in South Carolina since 2000, according to the release.
Texas Parks and Wildlife says alligators have a natural fear of humans. Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology and member of the "Croc Docs" at the University of Florida, told USA TODAY in July the animals "don't perceive humans as either a threat or as food."
He added you're more than likely to drown in water than be attacked by an alligator, but being in water with alligators present could entice them.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alligator kills woman, 88, in South Carolina, 4th US death this year