KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County Coroner’s Office said the missing Kiawah Island man found in a pond died of natural causes.
The results of an autopsy on 79-year-old John Elias indicate the injuries his body sustained from an alligator were post-mortem, meaning he had already passed away before an alligator found his body, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said.
“This is an incredibly sad and tragic situation and our thoughts are with the Elias family as they grieve the loss of their loved one,” Wooten said.
Authorities say the alligator involved was found Sunday afternoon by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources personnel. The alligator was euthanized and a necropsy was performed during which the contents of the animal’s digestive tract were collected as part of the autopsy process.
Elias’s body was found Saturday afternoon hours after his wife called 911 to report her husband missing from their home in the 100 block of Kiawah Island Club Drive, Charleston County deputies said.
An incident report states deputies responded to the home at 2:15 p.m. to report Elias was missing. The woman told police she had last seen her husband at 10 a.m. but that when she returned home, he was not there.
She told police his car, golf clubs and bicycle were still in the garage, the report states.
Deputies found cutting shears in the backyard near a pond and said there was brush pushed over at the edge of the pond into the water, the report states. Officers called in a K9 unit and air and marine patrol support to assist in a search.
From the air, officers spotted a man’s body in the water on the other side of the pond, the report states.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman David Lucas said they also responded to the area at approximately 4:40 p.m. where someone reported seeing an alligator on top of a man at the pond.