A 45-year-old woman who was killed by an alligator while walking her dog in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island Monday morning has been identified, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Cassandra Cline, a Sea Pines resident, was killed in the attack while trying to save her dog, state officials said. Cline was identified by Beaufort County coroner Ed Allen.
“It appears the alligator went after her dog and she tried to protect it,” said Sam Chappalear of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Chappalear said the 8-foot alligator has been caught and euthanized.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sun News
Law enforcement responded to Wood Duck Road in Sea Pines Plantation around 9:30 a.m after witnesses saw an alligator attacking the woman in a lagoon, according to the release.
Witnesses say the woman was walking her dog near the lagoon when she was attacked, dragged into the water and pulled under by the alligator, the release said. The dog was unharmed, according to the release.
Blake Smith, 34, who lives on Wood Duck Road was leaving his house this morning when he saw police cars and firetrucks in the neighborhood.
“I waited for about 30 minutes then I started hearing rumors about what happened down the road from here,” Smith said. “It’s odd because this is the first time we’ve heard about an aggressive alligator around a human in the five years that we’ve been living here.”
Smith said this area of Sea Pines is more residential so there are a lot of bikers and people walking their dogs in the area. He said the times there have been alligators in a yard or pool, the Sea Pines Community Services Association was quick to remove the animal.
“They do a good job. This is just a sad incident,” he said. “I have a young son so it’s kind of concerning to see something like this could happen.”
Steve Darmody, who’s lived on Governors Lane for a year and a half, said the community is close-knit.
“It’s a real community,” he said, “not a place where people rent out their homes.”
People know each other by their first names, he said, and they know each other’s dogs.
Darmody, 60, a lawyer, was working in his home office Monday morning when a neighbor knocked on his door; the neighbor had Cline’s dog, which was soaked. The neighbor was crying, and told him what she knew. The dog did not appear injured, Darmody said, and it stayed in his house for a while, during which time neighbors tried to reach Cline’s family by phone.
Darmody walked down the road to the scene of the incident. He said he saw Cline’s body being removed from the lagoon, and that he did not see any apparent injuries.
The Sea Pines Community Services Association sent an email to homeowners just after 11 a.m. saying a “deceased person” was found in a lagoon in the Club Course area of Sea Pines.
Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue was on the scene assisting law enforcement and the coroner, spokesperson Joheida Fister said.
Alligator attacks are exceedingly rare and the animals are usually afraid of people, according to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources spokesperson David Lucas.
Lucas said SCDNR’s major piece of advice to everyone is to not feed the alligators.
“Feeding alligators can quickly make them dangerous to people,” Lucas said. He said once people do this, the alligators will start associating people with food and be more likely to approach them.
Lucas said other than not feeding alligators, people should always be aware of their surroundings if they’re in an alligator-friendly habitat — which he said is just about any body of fresh water in the Lowcountry region — and not throw anything at alligators in the water.
If someone does see an alligator approaching them, Lucas said they should walk backwards and back away from it.
In 2009, an Ohio man was playing golf on a Fripp Island course when he leaned down at the edge of a lagoon to pick up his ball and a 400-pound alligator grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the pond. The man survived, but lost his arm.
In July, an eight-foot alligator attacked a dog in Long Cove Plantation. The dog was running out of the pond in a backyard when it was bit on both of its back legs. The dog survived the attack and was treated with stitches.