Woman identified in deadly Hilton Head gator attack
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has identified a woman attacked and killed by an alligator in Sea Pines Plantation Monday morning.
Deputies say Cassandra Cline, 45, of Hilton Head Island was attacked while walking her dog around a lagoon off of Wood Duck Road.
When firefighters arrived, they found the woman in the lagoon and recovered her body.
Witnesses told deputies the woman was walking her dog near the lagoon when she was attacked by the 8-foot alligator and pulled underwater.
The Sheriff's Office Environmental Crimes Unit, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Sea Pines security are searching for the alligator.
The woman's dog was not injured in the incident.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has taken over the investigation. Assistant Chief Sam Chappelear was one of the first responders on scene.
"The alligator was in attempt to get the dog. It appears the dog was in close proximity to the water, the deceased tried to save her dog from the alligator and in turn, once the dog got away from the alligator, the alligator, in turn, grabbed her," he said.
Beaufort County Coroner Edward Allen said there will be an autopsy performed at the Medical University of South Carolina.
"As a result of that, we will be able to determine the apparent cause of death," said Allen.
Officials with DNR state gator attacks are rare, and said there have only been two fatalities in South Carolina related to attacks.
"The alligator has been fed and have lost their fear of humans or someone has been prodding the alligator, picking at it. There is usually a human reason why an alligator attacks in most situations, but an outright attack is extremely rare," said Chappelear.
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Environmental Crimes Unit joined the DNR and Hilton Head Fire Rescue along with the Sea Pines security in investigating the incident.