A woman died Monday morning in a suspected alligator attack on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, police said.
The woman, identified as Cassandra Cline, 45, according to South Carolina’s The State, was walking her dog near a lagoon at Sea Pines Plantation when a large alligator apparently attacked her.
“She did not have the dog on a leash, and when she went to go retrieve the dog, the gator came out of the water, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the water,” a golf club employee, who does not wish to be identified, told HuffPost.
Police were dispatched to the scene around 9:30 a.m.
“When they arrived, fire personnel located the deceased woman … and recovered her body,” the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. The cause of death is pending.
A maintenance man is said to have witnessed the attack, which was reportedly recorded on surveillance video. Authorities said the woman’s dog was not harmed.
Sam Chappalear of South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources told The State that the alligator believed responsible for the attack was caught and euthanized.
David Lucas, a department spokesman, told HuffPost that verified human fatalities from alligators are “extremely rare.”
In July 2016, a 90-year-old woman was found dead in a retention pond behind an assisted living facility on Hilton Head. The Charleston County Coroner’s Office concluded that she died because of “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries.”
At the time, her death was called the first of its kind in the state in decades.
“The injuries are consistent with those which could be inflicted by an alligator and our investigation has confirmed that an alligator was involved in the decedent’s death,” coroner Rae Wooten told The Post and Courier in 2016.
The golf course employee said is not uncommon to see alligators in the area. Multiple signs warning of alligators are posted throughout the property, according to the employee.
Still, not everyone apparently heeds the warnings.
“I have seen people do a lot of stupid things, like go up to them and turn their back and try to take a selfie with them,” the golf course employee said. “I have also seen people throw food at them.