Beaufort County authorities say a woman pulled from an attacking alligator on Hilton Head Island on Monday may be the state’s first confirmed alligator-related death in years.
The county coroner’s office identified the woman as 45-year-old Cassandra Cline. The office has scheduled a forensic autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina to determine her cause of death. The release said state Department of Natural Resources officials located and “dispatched” an alligator at the scene believed responsible for the attack.
A DNR spokesman referred all questions to an agency biologist at the scene. That biologist did not immediately return a phone call.
However, that biologist Sam Chappalear told The Island Packet newspaper that it appeared the alligator first attacked Cline’s dog and she attempted to fight it off. He said the dog was unharmed.
The incident occurred in the island’s Sea Pines Plantation community.
The fatal alligator attack is believed to be South Carolina’s first confirmed in recent memory. Charleston County officials suspected an alligator killed a missing 90-year-old nursing home patient in 2016, but could not conclusively say if the alligator directly caused her death or bit her body afterwards.