A 69-year-old woman was attacked and killed by an alligator on Tuesday as she was walking her dog in her neighborhood in Hilton Head Island, S.C., the authorities said.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said it was the second fatal alligator attack in the county in less than a year.
The woman who was killed on Tuesday was found at the edge of a lagoon in Spanish Wells, a residential community in Hilton Head Island. She had left her home around 7 a.m. to walk her dogs, and relatives went looking for her when the dogs returned without her, said Maj. Angela Viens, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
A family member spotted her and contacted emergency services around 9:30 a.m. As emergency medical workers were trying to revive the woman, who was unresponsive, “an alligator appeared and was guarding the woman, interrupting emergency efforts,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
The alligator, a 9-foot, 9-inch male, was removed and euthanized, officials from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.
It was the sixth death in South Carolina among 24 alligator-related episodes with injuries since 2000, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The authorities in Beaufort County responded to a similar encounter last August, when the body of an 88-year-old woman was found in a pond in a gated community near Hilton Head Island. The authorities said they believed the woman, Nancy A. Becker, had been gardening near a pond when she slipped into the water, where the alligator attacked her.
The alligator in that attack, a 9-foot, 8-inch male, was later captured, removed from the pond and euthanized, officials said at the time.
Jay Butfiloski, the furbearer and alligator program coordinator with the state’s Natural Resources Department, could not be reached on Tuesday. In an interview with The New York Times last August, he said that fatal alligator attacks were rare but had increased in recent years as development had encroached on areas where alligators lived.
Attacks are more common near bodies of water and when a person is accompanied by a pet, he said.
“It’s unlikely for them to leave the water to come after someone,” he said. “They’re not going to chase you down the fairway in these golfing communities.”