A woman who was attacked by an alligator Thursday on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina was rescued by a neighbor who hit the animal with a shovel, authorities said. The unidentified woman was walking her dog at about 8 a.m. Thursday next to a lagoon at Hilton Head Plantation when she was attacked by the 8-foot gator, officials said.
A female neighbor saw the commotion and tried to help pull the woman out of the water but realized something was holding on to her. That is when the neighbor realized saw an "alligator latched on to her lower leg(s)," according to a news release.
The neighbor's husband picked up a shovel, ran into the water and repeatedly hit the alligator until it let go, CBS affiliate WTOC-TV reported.
The woman was transported to a hospital in Savannah, Ga. with serious leg injuries, WTOC reports. The dog was not injured, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
"This is an unfortunate incident," said Joheida Fister, Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue Deputy Chief. "We advise residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially if they are taking walks with small pets near lagoons that are habitats for alligators."
Officials say the alligator will be euthanized. A necropsy will be performed to see if the gator had been being fed by people.
"When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and can begin to associate people with food," said David Lucas, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Other details of the attack are still under investigation.
Last year an alligator attacked and killed a woman on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Prior to that, a 45-year-old woman walking her dog was fatally attacked on Hilton Head Island in August 2018 and a 90-year-old woman walked out of a Charleston nursing home in 2016 and was killed by a gator.