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88-year-old woman killed in alligator attack in South Carolina

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(SUN CITY HILTON HEAD, S.C.) -- An 88-year-old woman was killed in an apparent alligator attack in South Carolina on Monday, officials said.

It appears the victim, Nancy Becker, was gardening near a pond in Sun City Hilton Head, an adult-only community, and slipped in, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Natural Resources.

Responders found the gator "guarding" Becker, officials said.

The gator, a 9-foot, 8-inch male, has been euthanized, officials said.

Becker's autopsy will be conducted Tuesday, officials said.

This marks the fifth alligator death in South Carolina since 2000, according to the Department of Natural Resources and the sheriff's office.

Alligators are active during spring and summer because when temperatures rise, their metabolism increases and they look for food, Melody Kilborn, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told ABC News last month.

Kilborn urged people to follow these safety tips: alligators are most active at night, so only swim in designated swimming areas during daylight hours; never feed an alligator; and keep your pets on a leash and away from the water's edge.

ABC News' Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.

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