Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at S.C. resort


HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A woman who often walked her dog near a golf course lagoon across the street from her vacation home was killed today by an alligator that dragged her into the greenish water at a private resort on the South Carolina coast.

Authorities said 45-year-old Cassandra Cline was trying to protect her pet border collie when she died not far from her home on Hilton Head Island.

Thomas DiMaio, who rents a house across the street from the scene of the attack, said he heard shrieks while he was in the shower but thought they were a bird. He went outside a half-hour later to find a crowd gathering beside the road, where a bag of dog treats Cline had been carrying, one of her shoes and her hat dotted a trail leading to the water.

"It's really sad," said DiMaio, who often chatted with Cline as she walked her dog past the vacation home he's rented for several weeks in the Sea Pines Resort. "She didn't have any children. The dog was her child, I guess."

He said Cline and her husband divided their time between Hilton Head and their home near Syracuse, N.Y. DiMaio said he would see Cline and her dog walking two or three times daily, and the woman often carried a bag of treats she would feed to her pet.

"She was a very pleasant woman," DiMaio said. "Very friendly."

The 8-foot alligator was later found and killed, said David Lucas, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

"She was walking the dog near the lagoon and the alligator came out of the water and tried to get the dog," Lucas said. "The lady tried to rescue the dog and a maintenance worker ran over to help."

Both were trying to save the dog, but the alligator dragged the woman into the water, he said.

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