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Husband of woman killed in 2018 Hilton Head Island gator attack is suing resort community

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Alligator Sign (copy)

A sign near a retention pond in the Indigo Island Reserve subdivision in Hanahan warns residents that alligators could be nearby. File/Rickey Ciapha Dennis Jr./Staff

The husband of a New York woman killed last summer after an alligator dragged her into a lagoon at a Hilton Head Island resort is suing the community's owners, alleging they failed to take action that would've prevented the attack.

The suit contends Sea Pines Plantation officials "were aware of problems with alligators," though it does not reference any specific incidents.

Before 45-year-old Casandra Cline's death, Sea Pines Plantation had an obligation to remove gators it perceived as "aggressive," court documents contend.

A Sea Pines Plantation representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cline and her husband James owned property at the 5,000-acre residential resort community, which is also a known habitat for many birds, mammals and reptiles.

On the morning of Aug. 20, Cline, who worked as a teacher in New York, was walking her dog near a lagoon. As she neared the lagoon, an alligator emerged from the water and lunged at Cline's dog, authorities said at the time.

Instead of seizing the dog, the gator latched onto the leash and pulled the woman into the water.

"Ms. Cline struggled with the alligator and was eventually dragged into the lagoon where the alligator held her underwater," according to the complaint.

The civil suit, filed April 9 in Beaufort Court of Common Pleas, said the alligator measured just over 9 feet long. 

The alligator was killed after Cline's death, authorities said.

The suit seeks actual and punitive damages. 

In South Carolina, only one other person is known to have died in an alligator attack in recent times: a 90-year-old woman with dementia who wandered away from her West Ashley assisted-living facility in July 2016.

Investigators said Bonnie Walker likely fell into a nearby pond and attracted the attention of a gator.

She died of wounds inflicted by the alligator, according to the Charleston County coroner at the time.

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Reach Michael Majchrowicz at 843-937-5591. Follow him on Twitter @mjmajchrowicz.

Michael Majchrowicz is a reporter covering crime and public safety. He previously wrote about courts for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts. A Hoosier native, he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.

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