Alligator Kills 88-Year-Old South Carolina Woman Who Reportedly Slipped While Gardening

by Amy Myers

Tragic news has struck the community of Sun City Hilton Head after an alligator killed an elderly woman who slipped outside her home. The victim was 88-year-old Nancy A. Becker, a resident of the gated adult community just north of Savannah, Georgia.

The terrible accident occurred on Monday and is the second fatal alligator attack in South Carolina this year. According to local authorities, they received a call about a gator “standing guard” near a human body close to the community’s pond. At the time, Becker had been tending to her garden when she fell into the water. Unfortunately, the reptile closed in on the woman and took advantage of her compromised situation.

Teams arrived at the scene at roughly 11:15 a.m. By 1 p.m., emergency personnel was able to recover the woman’s body, according to the sheriff’s office news release. The next step in the investigation is for Beaufort County Coroner David Ott to complete an autopsy on Becker at the South Medical University of South Carolina.

South Carolina Officials Had Trouble Capturing the Alligator

Officials also reported that the reptile was a 9-foot, 8-inch male. After an alligator attacks a human, South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources had to remove and euthanize it. However, according to Beaufort County Police Maj. Angela Viens, DNR staff was still trying to capture the gator when she left the scene at 3 p.m. An hour later, teams had migrated to the edge of a pond near the intersection of Col. Thomas Heyward Road and Fort Walker Lane in search of the creature.

On Monday, officials confirmed that they have since put the animal down.

This is the third alligator attack to occur in Sun City Hilton Head in the past three years, the News Observer reported. According to Sun City’s website, there are 1,500 acres of open land and wetlands. It is unknown if alligator sightings are frequent within the community.

Gator Authorities Say Attacks Are Still Fairly Rare

While alligator attacks (much like other large animal attacks) often make headlines, they are still relatively rare. As of 2019, the University of Florida reported that the U.S. sees an average of only one fatal alligator attack per year.

Of course, these attacks are fair more likely to happen in southeastern states like South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

“Roughly 4% of alligator attacks on humans in the United States have resulted in death, a majority of which occurred in Florida,” the university stated. “Most alligator attacks are characterized by a single bite and immediate release. Few attacks can be attributed to territorial alligators or nest defense.”

The report also stated that pet attacks are a more common occurrence because the reptiles perceive them as viable prey. And, in fact, the last fatal attack to happen in Beaufort County, South Carolina was in 2018 when a gator pulled a woman walking her small dog into the water when it grabbed the leash.

It is unknown if Becker had a pet with her at the time of her death.