A 45-year-old woman trying to protect her her dog from a 2.44 metre alligator has died after she was snatched and dragged underwater.
A witness called police to report an alligator was attacking a woman at a lagoon on Hilton Head Island, a popular tourist destination in South Carolina, US.
Police recovered her body and identified the victim as Cassandra Cline of Hilton Head Island.
“It appears the alligator went after her dog and she tried to protect it,” Sam Chappalear of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources told local media.
The alligator believed to be responsible for the attack was captured and killed, said Robert McCullough, a captain for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Authorities said the dog was not harmed.
Alligators typically roll their victim beneath the water’s surface until their prey stops breathing, before stashing the body to eat later.
Alligator attacks are uncommon in the United States, where the majority of animal-related deaths are caused by farm animals, hornets, wasps, bees and dogs, according to a study published in March.
In June, a nearly four-metre alligator in Florida killed a woman in an attack, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Two years ago, an alligator snatched a two-year-old boy from the edge of a lake at the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. His parents tried to save the child but were unable to free him.