SUN CITY, S.C. (WTOC) - A 68-year-old woman is recovering after being attacked by an alligator.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says it happened Monday night around 10 p.m. in Sun City in Beaufort County. They say the woman was walking her dog in an area between her yard and her neighbor’s yard. The woman was bitten on her wrist/hand and her leg, but it is unknown how severe her injuries are.
The woman was taken to Memorial Health in Savannah for treatment.
DNR conservation officers, wildlife biologists, and a state-contracted alligator control agent went out to find the alligator. They say they found and captured an alligator coming out of a pond just 25-yards away from the victim’s home. That alligator is approximately the same size that was reported in the incident, which was about eight to nine feet long. The alligator was removed and euthanized by the alligator control agents, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
DNR says they do not have a way to know if that was the exact alligator that bit the woman or not. They are still investigating the incident.
“Unfortunately, we did find an adult patient that had engaged in some capacity with a gator. While we wouldn’t say they were life-threatening injuries, they were certainly life-changing injuries," said Cpt. Lee Levesque, Bluffton Township Fire District.
Though these type of incidents are infrequent, Beaufort County urges residents and guests to be mindful of alligators and to please be careful when walking near ponds and lagoons, especially at night when visibility is limited.
The Bluffton Township Fire District also responded to the attack. They say this incident is one that’s rare. They might respond to one alligator attack per year.
“In our experience, there’s not a trend," Cpt. Levesque said. “We surely look at those to see if there is a preventive message or effort that we can put forth to help folks avoid those scenarios. The unfortunate truth is they are wild animals, and wild indicates the fact that there is no trend there is no way.”
Despite seeing gators in the Sun City community, some residents are shocked.
“Just a little bit. I’ve never heard of attacks before, but you got to be careful. There’s wild animals out there," said Sun City resident, Michael Smith.
This comes almost one year after an alligator killed Cassandra Cline in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. DNR says alligators are not usually aggressive towards people, but they are towards small dogs that they might see as prey.
It was part of SC DNR’s protocol to euthanize the alligator, because it’s illegal to relocate or transport alligators in the state of South Carolina.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the injured woman remains hospitalized in Savannah.
WTOC has reached out to the communications department with the Sun City community to learn how they work to protect residents and make them aware of alligators, but we have not yet heard back.