'Tragic, Freak Accident' in SC Pond Also a Rare One

Officials say alligator yanked victim into retention pond, killed him in Myrtle Beach
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2022 10:20 AM CDT
Man Dead After Rare Gator Attack in South Carolina
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Cindy Larson)

There have been only three recorded human deaths due to alligator attacks in South Carolina, but on Friday, a fourth fatality was added to that list. In a Friday Facebook post, the Horry County Police Department reported that shortly before noon that day, a call came in to local firefighters for a water rescue just outside Myrtle Beach, and when they rushed to the scene, they made a grim discovery: An alligator had attacked a resident who was standing near the edge of a retention pond and dragged the person into the water. The New York Times identifies the victim as male, though it notes authorities haven't released information on his name or age, or any other details on his death.

Officials say the victim's body was retrieved from the water, as was the still-living gator, which an on-scene alligator removal service and state biologist determined "should be humanely euthanized" then and there. NBC News details the three previous alligator-tied deaths in the state, which has about 100,000 alligators within its borders. Those deaths include an elderly woman pulled into a retention pond in 2016, a 45-year-old woman attacked in 2018 while walking her dog in Hilton Head, and a 58-year-old woman killed two years ago on Kiawah Island.

The Times notes that deadly alligator attacks across the country are rare, with only about one per year. To put that in context, you're about 56 times more likely to die from injuries involving venom, such as those caused by attacks from bees, wasps, and hornets. A Myrtle Beach local who talked to the paper, calling the latest incident a "tragic, freak accident," took a photo last month of three alligators chilling out in his condo's backyard. "We've always looked at the alligators as a part of the community," Jason Repak says. "Everybody treats them with a healthy respect. You try to maintain distance from the banks, and when you see them out, you admire them from afar." An investigation into the Myrtle Beach death is ongoing. (More alligator stories.)

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