'I guess I won’t do this again': Last words of SC woman killed by alligator she was trying to touch
Cynthia Covert, 58, is only the third person to die from an alligator encounter in South Carolina in the past four years
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: A South Carolina woman was attacked and killed by an alligator, which dragged her underwater after she tried to touch it despite being repeatedly warned not to, police said.
Cynthia Covert, 58, an animal lover, had traveled to Kiawah Island, a gated community southeast of Charleston, on Friday, May 1, to give a homeowner a manicure when the tragic incident unfolded.
The woman told police that Covert was professional as usual in her salon, but had been relaxed and excited at the home over her boyfriend's visit from Tennessee. She also said she was "very talkative and acting strange."
She had reportedly brought a glass of wine with her that she consumed and saw the alligator while working on the porch. When she was done with the manicure, she started taking pictures of the animal, the woman told deputies.
The woman said she and her husband started screaming for Covert to get away from the alligator because they had seen it grab a deer earlier, only for the 58-year-old to quip, "I don't look like a deer" and continue towards it.
When she was around four feet away, the alligator lunged at her and grabbed her in its mouth, deputies said. Despite the attack, Covert made no sound as she was pulled under, according to the woman.
She said that she, her husband, and another man tried beating the alligator with shovels but the animal just swam deeper. It kept surfacing with Covert at regular intervals, and they said they tried to throw a rope to her, to little avail.
At one point, she managed to grab the rope and said, "I guess I won't do this again," but was once again pulled under by the alligator.
By the time deputies and firefighters arrived at the scene, the alligator was still surfacing with Covert and going under. After about 10 or 15 minutes, her body surfaced but the alligator still had hold of her leg and took her body back under.
Police said one deputy was able to shoot it in the head with a 9 mm handgun one of the times it came up, but it was too late.
Firefighters finally managed to get her out of the pond using poles, but they could not save her. She died at the hospital. While her leg was severely damaged, an autopsy by the Charleston County Coroner's Office determined she had died of drowning.
"In May 1 Kiawah Island incident in which victim was pulled into pond by alligator, coroner has ruled death as accidental drowning," the police said in a tweet. "This case is an unfortunate tragedy."
"We urge citizens to be alert and cautious around wildlife. Enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly."
Covert is the third person to die from an alligator encounter in South Carolina in the past four years.
The death of a 90-year-old woman in July 2016 in a pond outside a West Ashley extended-care facility was reportedly the first alligator-related fatality on record in the state. Then, two years later, a 45-year-old woman was killed at a resort community on Hilton Head Island.