Man possibly killed by alligator on Kiawah Island

by Drew Tripp

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCIV) — Officials are trying to determine if an elder man found dead Saturday, June 22, at a pond on Kiawah Island was killed by an alligator.

The man’s body was found shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday, about 2 hours after authorities say they were first notified of a missing person from property adjacent to the pond.

The man was first reported missing around 10 a.m., according to officials with the S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

When the man’s body was found, it had what appeared to be alligator bite marks on it, says Capt. Roger Antonio with CCSO.

A SCDNR spokesperson said their agency was initially told someone spotted an alligator on top of a man at the pond earlier in the day.

Capt. Antonio says the man’s cause of death remains unknown. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the how the man died.

Officials have not yet revealed the deceased man’s name or age. That information will come from the Charleston County Coroner’s Office after family has been properly notified.

A wildlife biologist from SCDNR has been dispatched to the pond on Kiawah to try locating the alligator involved.

The Town of Kiawah Island posted information about alligators on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon, approximately 2 hours after officials says the man’s body was recovered:

The post says Kiawah Island is home to close to 70 alligators, which can be found in almost all of the 150 brackish and freshwater ponds on the island. Most of those ponds and lakes have signage warning of the dangers of alligators, the town said.

There has been only one confirmed person ever killed by an alligatorin Charleston County, and two in the state of South Carolina.

The first happened in July 2016 in the West Ashley area of Charleston, when a 90-year-old woman with dementia wandered away from a senior living facility. The woman’s body later was found in a nearby pond.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten ruled at the time the woman died of multiple sharp, blunt force trauma consistent with alligator bites.

DNR officials believed the woman’s injuries were caused by an 8-foot alligator inhabiting the pond. It was removed from the pond and euthanized.

The second confirmed human death caused by an alligator in South Carolina occurred in August 2018 on Hilton Head Island, when a 45-year-old woman was attacked and killed while walking her dog near a pond in the Sea Pines community.

The Town of Kiawah Island has shared the following safety message about alligators:

On Kiawah, the interaction between people and alligators is inevitable. Please remember the following safety tips:

Stay at least 60 feet (4 car lengths) away from alligators.

Never approach or feed alligators. It’s against the law.

Do not crab or fish near alligators.

Do not throw used bait or fish parts back into the water after fishing or crabbing.

Do not throw objects at alligators or harass them in any way.

Keep children and pets away from the edges of lakes and ponds.

Keep out of secluded pond areas where alligators may nest. Females are very protective of their nest and young.

Report Aggressive Alligators – If you encounter an aggressive alligator, please report it to Town Hall by phone (843-768-9166) during normal business hours (8-5). At all other times, please call KICA Security (843-768-5566).

(Correction: This story previously said there had been only one confirmed human death caused by an alligator in South Carolina history. There have been two. The story has been updated to reflect the accurate information.)

Categories: Local News, News, State