KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A woman who died following a gator attack on Kiawah Island had attempted to touch the animal and told people who were attempting to rescue her, “I guess I won’t do this again,” according to a newly released investigative report.
Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said 57-year-old Cynthia Covert died following the attack in the area of Salt Cedar Lane last Friday. Wooten listed Covert’s cause of death as drowning and the manner of death was an accident.
Kiawah Island Mayor Craig Weaver called the incident a “horrible tragedy” which was preventable.
“This was not a random act by an alligator to aggressively attack a person in an unprovoked situation,” Weaver said.
A sheriff’s office report released on Tuesday states that the incident started when a friend had Covert at her home to do her nails on the porch.
The friend told deputies that Covert was very talking and acting “strange,” describing Covert as “very relaxed” and excited since her boyfriend was coming to town.
Investigators asked the friend if Covert had been drinking alcohol or if she was on drugs, and the witness said Covert came to her home with a glass of wine and that was the only thing she saw.
The friend said Covert saw an alligator in the pond and was fascinated by it, so she went outside of the porch and took pictures of the animal.
According to deputies, as the friend was cleaning up the porch she noticed Covert down by the water and started screaming “very loudly” for Covert to get back from the water, however Covert ignored her.
The friend yelled at Covert that the alligator grabbed a deer the other day from the spot she stood, and Covert replied,”I don’t look like a deer,” then moved to touch the alligator, a report by the sheriff’s office states.
At that time, the friend said her husband, who is the homeowner, ran down the stairs toward Covert, but the gator had grabbed her by the leg and started to pull her into the water.
A neighbor then got a rope, and the homeowner assisted in throwing the rope towards Covert who got the rope in her hand.
The homeowner reported that as Covert was about waist deep in the water she said in a very calm voice,”I guess I won’t do this again,” as they tried to pull her from the water.
Authorities say as the homeowner and neighbor were pulling the rope, the gator started to roll and Covert lost the grip on the rope and she went under water.
Deputies with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and crews with the St. Johns Fire Department scanned the pond for Covert but did not see any movement when they arrived.
After 10 to 15 minutes, authorities saw the victim’s body surface, however when crews got to the body the alligator still had the victim by the leg and took her back under the water.
A report by the sheriff’s office states the body of the victim resurfaced a few moments later and a deputy was able to shoot the alligator in the head, and at that time the alligator released the victim’s body and she was able to be retrieved.