The woman found dead in an alligator attack in Sun City Hilton Head on Monday has been identified as an 88-year-old resident of the community, according to the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office.
Nancy Becker, 88, was found in a pond in the gated 55-plus community located in Okatie. Investigators believed she slipped and fell while gardening, Beaufort County Coroner David Ott and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources said Monday evening.
This is the second fatal alligator attack in Beaufort County in nearly four years and the third alligator attack in Sun City in the past three years.
Deputies got to Sun City around 11:15 a.m. after receiving a call from a resident reporting that an alligator, a 9-foot, 8-inch male, seemed to be “guarding” Becker’s body on the edge of the water.
An autopsy is expected to take place Tuesday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, Ott said. Becker was at the edge of the water near a pond in Sun City, a gated community, and the alligator was hovering nearby, according to Maj. Angela Viens with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
By 4 p.m. Monday, DNR employees and other law enforcement officials were gathered along the edge of a pond near the intersection of Col. Thomas Heyward Road and Fort Walker Lane looking for the alligator.
The animal was removed and euthanized, DNR officials said in a statement Monday night.
Becker’s body was collected around 1 p.m. by the coroner’s office, Viens said. Coroner David Ott was still at Sun City just before 2 p.m., according to Deputy Coroner Debbie Youmans.
Alligator attacks are fairly uncommon in the southeastern region of the United States but are more common in Florida than in South Carolina. Alligators are most active during the spring and summer. Many recent attacks involved people walking their dogs near ponds or lagoons inhabited by alligators. There is no indication a dog was involved in Monday’s death.
The last fatal attack in Beaufort County was in 2018 in Sea Pines on Hilton Head when an alligator pulled a 45-year-old woman and her small dog into a pond after it grabbed hold of the leash.
The last fatal alligator attack to occur in South Carolina was on Friday, June 24, when “an alligator had taken hold of a neighbor” in the Myrtle Beach Golf and Yacht club community and “retreated into a nearby retention pond,” according to local law enforcement. The person died, and the gator was euthanized.