Family of Woman Killed by Alligator Blames Pond Builder

SC retirement community, developer named in wrongful death suit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2022 3:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 21, 2023 1:05 PM CDT
She Was Gardening Before She Was Killed by an Alligator in South Carolina
An alligator is seen in a pond at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006.   (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman, File)
UPDATE Apr 21, 2023 1:05 PM CDT

The family of an elderly South Carolina woman killed by an alligator in August is blaming her retirement community. Sun City Hilton Head failed to take steps to prevent alligators from making a home in the "manmade ponds and ponding basins" into which Nancy Becker fell while trimming shrubs in her backyard, and didn't warn against the known hazards, according to a lawsuit filed Monday, per the Washington Post. The suit alleging negligence and wrongful death also names a community employee and developer Del Webb Communities, which allegedly "breached" its duty to residents by designing and building the ponds "without adequate safeguards." It adds Becker "endured excruciating pain and suffering, including severed limbs" before dying.

Aug 16, 2022 3:00 AM CDT

An 88-year-old South Carolina woman was killed by an alligator Monday in the country's fourth confirmed fatal gator attack this year. The woman was found after an alligator was spotted "guarding what was believed to be a person" near the edge of a pond in a gated 55-and-over community in Hilton Head, ABC News reports. It took two hours for responders to recover the woman's body due to the gator's guarding behavior, WJCL reports. She was identified as Nancy A. Becker, USA Today reports. Authorities say she had been gardening when she slipped into the pond. The alligator, a 9-foot, 8-inch male, was later removed from the water and euthanized.

Fatal alligator attacks are rare; this was the second in South Carolina this year but just the fifth one in the state since 2000. As temperatures rise in spring and summer, alligators' metabolism increases and they start getting more active as they search for food. They are most active at night, so people are advised to stay away from swimming areas at night and to keep their animals leashed and away from bodies of water. "We're always being told to look out. You know, be careful where you go, particularly if somebody's walking a dog or whatever," says another resident of the community. (Read more alligator stories.)

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