An 88-year-old woman in South Carolina was killed by an alligator on Monday after she apparently slipped into a pond while gardening, officials said.
The body of Nancy Becker was discovered around 11:15 a.m. at the edge of the water in Sun City Hilton Head, a gated senior living community in Bluffton, by another resident, who told sheriff's deputies the alligator appeared to be "guarding" the body.
Alligator Euthanized Following Attack
The victim had been gardening when she slipped into the pond, officials told CNN affiliate WTOC. The alligator, a male measuring 9 feet and 8 inches, was captured by officials with the state Department of Natural Resources and euthanized, the station reported.
"When we responded, that's what we observed — that the alligator was basically holding her hostage, I guess," Major Angela Viens, with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, told the station WJCL.
It took first responders two hours to retrieve Becker's body. An autopsy on Becker will be performed later on Tuesday. The investigation into this incident is being handled by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Beaufort County Coroner's Office.
Fifth Fatal Alligator Attack in South Carolina
The Sun City Hilton Head community has around two hundred lagoons and ponds, a sheriff's deputy told WTOC. The deputy added people should assume alligators are in most of those bodies of water.
This marks the fifth alligator death in South Carolina since 2000, and the second so far this year. On June 24, the Horry County Police Department said an alligator dragged a man into a pond. Prior to that attack, authorities said, the state had not recorded any in two years.
An estimated 5 million wild American alligators live across 10 states in Southeast and beyond -- even in the southeastern tip of Oklahoma. Last September, an elderly man was feared dead after an alligator attacked him in his home during Hurricane Ida, as previously reported.