A 10ft-long alligator mauled a pensioner to death as she walked her dog on Tuesday morning (July 4).
The 69-year-old, yet to be named, was taking her pooch around Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, US, when the fatal gator attack took place.
She was found unresponsive at the edge of a lagoon near her home and the Spanish Wells Golf Club.
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Rescue efforts were hindered by the alligator itself as it stood guard next to her mutilated body, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said.
A local NBC affiliate WYFF reported: “Rescue efforts were made, and an alligator appeared and was guarding the woman, interrupting emergency efforts.
“The gator was safely removed from the area and the woman’s body was recovered.”
Authorities responded to calls of a possible alligator attack at about 9.30am (local time).
When they eventually managed to get to the body the woman was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
The Beaufort County Coroner’s Office is expected to perform an autopsy on the woman today (Wednesday, July 5).
It is unclear at this point where the woman was taken into the water. The condition of the woman's dog is also unknown.
Alligator attacks have increased in recent years across the US, especially in Florida and South Carolina.
South Carolina went years without having many alligator attacks until last year, when the state reported five separate incidents – two of which were fatal.
On August 15, 2022, another woman, 88, was attacked by an alligator at a lagoon near her home in Hilton Head Island.
Similarly, the gator was seen guarding the woman's body when she was found.
The Beaufort County coroner's office conducted an autopsy on the body that revealed she died from blunt-force trauma.
It was unclear after looking at her medical conditions whether the woman died before the attack or after. The alligator was euthanized shortly after.
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