KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Investigators say deputies who were investigating a missing man case on Kiawah Island on Saturday located a body with what’s believed to be alligator bite marks.
Officials with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office say the investigation started shortly before 2 p.m. when deputies responded to a report of a missing person from the 100 block of Kiawah Island Club Drive.
The missing man had not been seen since 10 a.m. that morning, although his vehicle was still on the premises.
The sheriff’s office then used K-9 units to search the immediate area which led deputies to the edge of a large pond behind the man’s property.
“Due to the large size and irregular shape of the pond, deputies requested the Sheriff’s Office helicopter to canvass the area by air,” CCSO officials said."Helicopter observers located what appeared to be a motionless person in the pond, out of sight from the residence."
A report states that the sheriff’s office Marine Patrol also responded, and soon located and confirmed the individual in the area.
CCSO officials said the deceased individual had bite marks and wounds consistent in appearance with an alligator encounter.
“In light of this information, the sheriff’s office requested the SC Department of Natural Resources to assist with the investigation,” CCSO officials said."The coroner’s office was also notified, and is expected to perform an autopsy to try to determine the cause of death."
Investigators said that based on the initial appearance, deputies suspect that the deceased individual is the person originally reported as missing.
The sheriff’s office is continuing the investigation and is asking anybody with information to call the sheriff’s office at 843-202-1700.
Officials with SCDNR said their agents and law enforcement units had been searching for the alligator following the report of the incident.
According to SCDNR, their investigation began when they received a call from the sheriff’s office around 4 p.m.
DNR agents said they were told that someone had reported seeing an alligator on top of a man at a pond off Kiawah Island Club Drive.
According to authorities, an elderly man’s body was then recovered from the scene.
Wildlife biologists and law enforcement officers were on the scene on Saturday trying to find the gator which has not been seen since the body was recovered, according to DNR officials.
DNR said the man had some “bad bite wounds,” and investigators are trying to figure out if the man was killed by an alligator or if if he died from some other cause before coming into contact with a gator.
DNR is assisting the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office with the case.
Mayor Craig Weaver released the following statement:
This afternoon the Town of Kiawah Island was informed that the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a missing person report of a male resident of the community. Unfortunately, the search ended with the recovery of a body from a pond near the missing individual’s home. At this time the circumstances surrounding this fatality are being investigated by the Sheriff’s office and the cause of death is unknown. The Town is in contact with the Sheriff’s office and will provide additional information as it becomes available. The Town will not release the name of the individual, pending confirmation from the County Coroner. I am deeply saddened by this tragedy. Kiawah Island is a small community of well-acquainted friends and neighbors and this loss will be felt by the entire community. On behalf of myself and the Town, we extend our condolences to the family.
The Town of Kiawah Island also released a statement on their Facebook page regarding safety tips on alligators