The body of an 88-year-old woman was found near a pond in a gated community near Hilton Head, South Carolina, after what authorities suspect was an alligator attack.
Police were notified around 11 a.m. Monday of a person in the water being "guarded" by an alligator at Sun City Hilton Head, a community for adults 55 and older located just north of Savannah, Georgia.
Maj. Angela Viens, a Beaufort County sheriff’s spokeswoman, said she arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and saw the 9-foot, 8-inch male near the edge of the pond with the woman's body.
"The alligator was basically holding her hostage," Viens said. "I don't know what the appropriate term would be. It was guarding her and did not want people close by."
Authorities recovered the woman's body. The alligator was removed from the pond and euthanized, the the S.C. Department of Natural Resources said Monday evening.
Beaufort County Coroner David Ott said the woman appeared to have been gardening when she slipped into the pound, the Island Packet reported.
It was the second fatal attack in the state of South Carolina in 2022 and at least the fourth one in the U.S. this year.
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A woman was killed by two alligators in Englewood, Florida, last month and a man who was retrieving Frisbees from a lake at a disc golf course in Largo, Florida, was also killed by a gator in May. In Myrtle Beach, S.C., a 75-year-old man died in June after being dragged into a retention pond by an alligator, NBC affiliate WMBF reorted.