The woman killed in a fatal alligator attack in South Carolina was visiting a client for an in-home nail appointment when curiosity drew her to a nearby pond where she spotted the animal, according to a witness account in a sheriff's report released Tuesday.
Cynthia Covert, 58, drowned after the alligator, which had grabbed a hold of her leg, pulled her under multiple times, Detective Keith Herriott of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office wrote in the report.
South Carolina nail salons have been closed under state orders aimed to slow the spread of coronavirus, but Covert went to the Kiawah Island home of Barbara Howell on Friday to give the woman a manicure, Herriott said.
The homeowner said Covert was acting strange and talking more than she does at the nail salon where she works. "She saw the alligator in the pond and was fascinated," the detective wrote of Howell's story.
After completing the service, Covert took pictures of the alligator from a porch, the witness told authorities.
"Barbara stated that she was cleaning up the porch when she noticed Covert down by the water," Herriott said. "Barbara yelled to Covert that the alligator grabbed a deer the other day from that spot, and Covert replied 'I don't look like a deer' then moved to touch the alligator."
Shortly after, Covert was pulled into the water by the animal, the report states.
When deputies and firefighters arrived the pond was calm, but after 10 or 15 minutes the woman's body emerged, with the alligator still clamped onto her leg, Herriott said. When the animal emerged again, a lieutenant shot it and it let go of the victim, he said.
"The cause of death was drowning and ruled accidental," the detective wrote.
It was the third fatal alligator attack in South Carolina in the past four years.