OKATIE, S.C. (WSAV) – Back in August 2022, 88-year-old Nancy Becker was killed in an alligator attack.
The incident happened in Sun City Hilton Head, an age-restricted community.
Officials believe she slipped and fell while gardening in her backyard before she was attacked by the 10-foot-long gator.
In a new lawsuit, lawyers for Becker’s family argue that the attack could have been stopped.
The lawsuit names Del Webb, which owns and runs the property, the Sun City Hilton Head Community Association and Tammy Hayes, the common area administrator for the development.
All are accused of being negligent by putting in ponds knowing they would attract gators and neglecting to install barricades or warn residents of the dangers.
The suit also says Sun City took over from the Department of Natural Resources the job of culling the gators. Becker’s family argues that Hayes, who was in charge of limiting the gator population, did that only sporadically.
University of South Carolina professor and attorney Joe McCulloch says the suit will hinge on whether Becker, or anyone who lives in the community, should know there are gators and that an attack is possible.
“A plane crashes on the hood of your car is not a foreseeable event,” Becker said. “But if you have had an attack out of that same lagoon, or you have had reports of a threatening alligator that has been seen by neighbors and something less than swift action has occurred, that is the mother’s milk of plaintiff’s lawsuits.”
A lawsuit connected to the last deadly alligator attack in the area — inside Sea Pines back in 2018 — was settled out of court.
There is another lawsuit pending after an attack in the Hilton Head Plantation that was filed by Elsie Kyle back in December.
Becker’s suit asks for full damages from Sun City. The development is not responding to questions about the lawsuit or Becker’s death.