The attack happened on Monday morning in a gated community for retirees near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The victim has been identified as Nancy Becker and she is believed to have been gardening near the pond before she accidentally fell in.
Emergency services were called at 11:15am after a resident reported that an alligator was guarding a human body.
Major Angela Viens, a spokesperson for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said: “When we responded, that’s what we observed — that the alligator was basically holding her hostage.”
Officers were able to retrieve Ms Becker’s body at 1pm and capture the alligator.
The reptile was a male that measured 9 foot 8 inches long and officials have confirmed that it has been euthanized.
Sun City Hilton Head is an age-restricted community in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina.
Major Viens said the pond in which the attack took place was surrounded by homes and was the second attack in the gated community in five years.
The first attack resulted in no deaths.
The Major added that alligator attacks in the area “are rare but not surprising.”
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Jay Butfiloski, an alligator program coordinator at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, has said there has been an “increased frequency” of alligator attacks over the last years but were “still a pretty rare event”.
He said the number of attacks has increased as people have moved into areas occupied by alligators due to more homes being built.
Mr Butfiloski said: “It’s unlikely for them to leave the water to come after someone.
“They’re not going to chase you down the fairway in these golfing communities.”