A tragic fatal alligator took place on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on the 4th of July. According to a press release, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office received reports of a possible alligator attack in the Spanish Wells community of Hilton Head at 9:28 a.m. on July 4th. The attack was reported to be near a lagoon bordering the golf course.

At the scene, Sheriff’s deputies found the body of a 69-year-old woman at the edge of the lagoon. The woman was unresponsive at the time and could not be revived. “Rescue efforts were made and an alligator appeared and was guarding the woman, interrupting emergency efforts,” explained officials. “The gator was safely removed from the area and the woman’s body was recovered.”

Sheriff’s deputies later learned that the victim was walking her dog at the time of the attack. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office did not say whether or not the dog was involved in the attack, though pet dogs are known to trigger gator attacks. Officials are performing an autopsy of the woman to confirm the cause of death.

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There are an estimated 100,000 alligators in South Carolina. American alligators can grow over 13 feet long and live for more than 60 years. Alligator attacks are rare, but they do occur. This incident is the second fatal gator attack documented in Beaufort County within the past year; In August 2022, a gator fatally attacked an 88-year-old woman at a lagoon near her house.