A South Carolina man who went missing from his home was found dead in a nearby pond in what investigators believe may have been an alligator attack.
The man had last been seen at his home on Kiawah Island Club Drive on Kiawah Island about 10 a.m. Saturday. Deputies called to the home saw his vehicle was still there and brought in a K-9 to search the area, the Charleston County sheriff’s office said.
The K-9 led police to the edge of a large pond behind the man’s home and cops brought in a helicopter and the sheriff’s office's marine patrol to canvass the area. Searchers found the man’s body in the pond about 4 p.m., officials said.
“The deceased individual had bite marks and wounds consistent in appearance with an alligator encounter,” the sheriff’s office said.
After discovering the injuries the man suffered, the sheriff’s office said it called in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to assist in their investigation.
The coroner’s office will perform an autopsy to determine the man’s cause of death.
The Town of Kiawah Island posted information about alligators on its Facebook page about two hours after the man’s body was discovered.
“Kiawah Island is home to a healthy population of alligators numbering close to 700,” officials said. “Alligators can be seen in almost all of the 150 brackish and freshwater ponds which are interspersed throughout the island.”
Authorities noted the animals are most active during the spring, summer and fall, and since they are cold-blooded, they can often be found on the edges of bodies of water to attempt to warm their bodies.
“Most pond and lakes around the island have signage warning of the dangers of alligators but it’s important to remember that any pond or lake in the low country has the potential to have alligators in it,” the town said. “On Kiawah, the interaction between people and alligators is inevitable.”
The town shared safety tips for those who find themselves in an area known to be populated by alligators. People should stay at least 60 feet, or four cars’ length, away from alligators, and should never approach or feed them, as it is against the law, authorities said.
Children and pets should be kept away from the edges of lakes and ponds, and people should avoid secluded pond areas where alligators may nest. “Females are very protective of their nest and young,” the town wrote.
Anyone who encounters an aggressive alligator on Kiawah Island should report it to Town Hall at 843-768-9166 during normal business hours, and at all other times, by calling KICA security at 843-768-5566.