A newly released 911 call made as an alligator dragged a woman into a South Carolina lake revealed the panicked helplessness felt by those witnessing the brutal attack.
Cassandra Cline, 45, was walking her dog when she encountered the gator near the 13th hole on the Sea Pines Plantation community golf course in Hilton Head on Monday.
The alligator tried to attack the dog, but Cline held firm on its leash and a tug-of-war ensued, ABC News reported.
Cline was dragged into the water, where she continued to struggle with the gator, according to a 911 call released by local authorities.
“She’s in the water right now!” the 911 caller said.
The caller, who said he could hear Cline screaming but was on the other side of the pond, said another person had entered the water to try to help her.
“I mean, what do you do?” the caller asked, according to WTOC-TV. “Do you jump in the water? I don’t know.”
Emergency responders pulled Cline from the water, but she died at the scene.
It appeared Cline had put up a considerable fight, as her arms and hands suffered notable injury during the attack, a police report obtained by WTOC-TV said.
A mother and kindergarten teacher from New York, Cline and her husband owned a home in the gated community and planned to retire there, her family told ABC News.
She was remembered for her dedication to her students and loving nature, her classroom considered “a celebration of the children’s work.”
“She made her classroom a home for everyone,” Dr. Suzanne McLeod, superintendent of New York’s Union-Endicott Central School District, told The Island Packet.
McLeod likened Cline to Mary Poppins, saying: “[Her classroom] just had those comfortable aspects to it that made everyone feel like it was for them.”
After the attack, authorities located and later euthanized the alligator that killed Cline.
Cline’s dog was not harmed in the incident.
There has been only one reported death thought to have involved an alligator in South Carolina’s recorded history, but the circumstances surrounding that death are not clear.
Bonnie Walker was found dead in a retention pond behind her nursing home in 2016. The 90-year-old woman was believed to have wandered away, and there were no witnesses who saw how she ended up in the water.
Walker had been severely bitten, but officials could not say if she had been attacked by an alligator before or after she went into the pond. Investigators at the time said they believed she may have fallen down a steep embankment and her landing in the water attracted an alligator’s attention.