CCSO Update: Woman tried to touch alligator before fatal attack

Charleston County News

UPDATE: MAY 5, 2020

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) released a follow up report to Monday’s reports detailing a fatal alligator encounter on Kiawah Island.

The new report elaborates on the victim’s strange behavior leading up to the attack.

According to the witness, Cynthia Covert (57) was at the witness’s house to do her nails. She said that Covert was not acting like herself- she was more talkative and relaxed than usual. When deputies asked if the change in behavior may have been alcohol or drug induced, the witness noted that “Covert came to her residence with a glass of wine, but that was the only thing she saw.”

As indicated in previous reports, Covert saw the alligator and went down to get a closer look, despite the protests of the homeowner and her husband.

This report reveals that the alligator had “grabbed a deer” from the same spot just days before. When the witness warned Covert, Covert replied “I don’t look like a deer” then attempted to touch the alligator, at which point it grabbed her by the leg and dragged her into the water.

In addition to trying to fend the alligator off with a shovel, witnesses tried to throw Covert a rope and pull her ashore.

One witness told deputies that “Covert was about waist deep in the water and she stated in a very calm voice ‘I guess I won’t do this again’ as they tried to pull her from the water.” At that point, “the alligator took her under the water and she released the rope.”

When responders retrieved Covert’s body, it was “intact with severe wounds to her leg.”

The Charleston County Coroner determined the cause of death as drowning.


KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has released the report detailing witness accounts of Friday’s fatal alligator encounter on Kiawah Island.

According to a witness, Covert was at the witness’s house and “appeared not her normal self.” The witness said that Covert saw the alligator in the pond, and wanted to get a closer look; the witness advised Covert not to get any closer, but Covert continued towards the alligator.

The witness said that when Covert was about four feet away from the edge of the water, “the big alligator came up and attacked her friend.” The witness’s husband tried to fend off the alligator with a shovel, but was unsuccessful.

Covert “never screamed,” according to the witness.

When CCSO and St. Johns Fire Department arrived, they “searched the water’s surface for any indications of Covert…[and] observed Covert resurface a short distance away from the attack site.”

Authorities removed Covert’s body from the pond, and “terminated” the alligator, “which was near Covert’s body.” They removed the deceased alligator from the pond as well.

There were at least two other alligators in the pond at the time, which CCSO determined “posed no threat to first responders.”

An autopsy was conducted at MUSC on Monday. Drowning was determined the cause of death, and the manner of death was ruled accidental.

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