Woman killed by alligator in SC was doing homeowner's nails

Authorities say the woman attacked and killed by an alligator in a gated community along the South Carolina coast was visiting the homeowner to do her nails

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The woman attacked and killed by an alligator in a gated community along the South Carolina coast was visiting the homeowner to do her nails and was trying to touch the animal when it grabbed her, authorities said.

After briefly getting away from the alligator Friday, the woman stood in waist deep water in the Kiawah Island pond and said “I guess I wont do this again,” but the alligator grabbed her in its jaws again and took her under, according to a supplemental police report released Tuesday.

Cynthia Covert, 58, died of drowning before Charleston County deputies and firefighters were able to shoot and kill the alligator and use poles to get her out of the pond, authorities said.

Covert came to Kiawah Island, a gated community southeast of Charleston, to give the homeowner a manicure Friday, according to the police report.

The woman told deputies Covert typically was professional in her salon, but was relaxed and excited at the home, talking about her boyfriend's visit from Tennessee, and brought a glass of wine with her.

Covert saw the alligator while working on the woman's porch and when Covert finished she started taking pictures of the alligator, the woman told deputies.

The woman and her husband started screaming for Covert to get away from the alligator because they saw it grab a deer a few days earlier, deputies said.

Covert said “I don't look like a deer” and reached to touch the alligator when the animal attacked, according to the report.

The husband and a neighbor grabbed a rope and threw it to Covert when she surfaced and stood in the pond. Covert grabbed the rope and said “I guess I wont do this again,” but was suddenly pulled under by the alligator, the police report said.

Deputies and firefighters looked for Colvert for 10 minutes before her body surfaced. The alligator took her back under once. When the alligator surfaced again, a deputy shot the animal in the head with his 9 mm handgun, the police report said.

Covert's leg was severely damaged, but an autopsy determined she drowned, the Charleston County Coroner's Office said.

Covert was the third person killed by an alligator in South Carolina in the past four years. A 90-year-old woman walked out of a Charleston nursing home in 2016 and was killed, while a 45-year-old woman walking her dog was fatally attacked on Hilton Head Island in August 2018.

Before those attacks, South Carolina had never recorded a person killed by an alligator.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.