May 1st, 2020
A 57-year-old woman in South Carolina who died in an alligator attack on Friday was trying to photograph the animal and had reached out to touch it before being dragged under water, authorities said Tuesday. Covert had been visiting her friend Barbara Howell at Kiawah Island before spotting the alligator from the back porch, McClatchy News reported. In a written statement given to investigators, Howell said Covert had come over to do her nails but was “very talkative and acting strange,” unlike how she normally behaved at the salon. Howell told deputies Covert arrived with a glass of wine but had not otherwise been drinking and did not appear to be on drugs. “Today she was very relaxed and excited that her boyfriend was coming from Tennessee to visit,” Howell said of Covert. The pair were on the porch when Covert reportedly became “fascinated” with the alligator, according to the report. When Covert went down to the pond to take pictures of the large reptile, Howell said she screamed “very loudly for Covert to get back from the water” and warned that an alligator had recently snatched a deer from the same spot. “I don’t look like a deer,” Covert reportedly responded before trying to touch the alligator. Howell’s husband, William Howell, told deputies he then “ran down the (porch) steps yelling.” That’s when the alligator grabbed Covert’s leg, according to the report. Neighbor Michael Clawson said he heard screaming and came out to see what was wrong, at which point Howell reportedly asked Clawson for a rope to help remove Covert from the animal’s grip. According to the report, Covert held the rope in her hands as they tried to yank her from waist-deep water when “she stated in a very calm voice, ‘I guess I won’t do this again.’” The alligator then rolled, causing her to lose her grip on the rope before being dragged under, the sheriff’s office said. Barbara Howell had dialed 911 during the attack while her husband also tried “striking the alligator” with a shovel, McClatchy News previously reported. By the time deputies arrived there was “no movement” in the pond, according to Tuesday’s report. They reportedly scanned the water for 10 to 15 minutes before Covert’s body briefly surfaced across the pond. “We went to that side of the pond and tried to retrieve the body with a pole from the Fire Department, at which time the alligator still had the victim by the leg and took her back under the water,” the report states. It resurfaced “a few moments later” and a deputy shot the alligator in the head with a 9mm handgun until it released Covert’s body, which was “intact with severe wounds to her left leg.” The animal’s body was sent to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, according to the report, and Covert’s autopsy was performed Monday.