Bonnie Walker was reported missing Wednesday morning from Brookdale Charleston, the West Ashley assisted-living facility where she was a resident. Her body was found in a retention pond behind the property a few hours later.
The Charleston County Coroner’s Office ruled her death accidental. The cause was “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries” consistent with those made by an alligator.
Robert McCullough, a spokesman for DNR, confirmed Friday afternoon that the case was the first time an alligator-related incident in the state had turned fatal.
“It’s the first one as far as we’ve been keeping records,” he said.
Agency staff completed a necropsy on the alligator and confirmed it was involved in Walker’s death. They turned it over to the coroner’s office.
“The injuries are consistent with those which could be inflicted by an alligator and our investigation has confirmed that an alligator was involved in the decedent’s death,” said Coroner Rae Wooten.
Investigators believe Walker slipped and fell down a steep embankment and landed in the water, attracting the alligator’s attention.
There were only about three hours elapsed between her disappearance and the recovery of her body by police divers.
While gator attacks do make the news, they’re actually quite rare, especially fatal attacks. Gators are native to all the coastal states of the former Confederacy, except for North Carolina, but most of these states have never seen a fatal attack, and they’re rarer than you might think even in the gator-attack capital of the world, Florida:
Florida has seen 23 fatal alligator attacks since 1948, including the recent death of a boy at a pond outside Disney World, according to a June 15 Orlando Sentinel story.
If a gator attacks you, you’re just really supremely unlucky.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.