Husband of woman killed by alligator sues Hilton Head resort where attack happened

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- The husband of a woman killed by an alligator in a private resort in South Carolina in August has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hilton Head resort where the attack happened.

James Cline is suing Sea Pines Resort and the Sea Pines Community Services Associates for what he claims was gross negligence.

James' wife, Cassandra Cline, was walking the couple's dog near the Sea Pines Lagoon when an alligator came out of the water and tried to attack the dog, authorities said. Cline, 45, was dragged into the lagoon by the alligator as she tried to protect the dog.

The 8-foot alligator was later found and killed, according to David Lucas, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Lucas said previously that a maintenance worker ran over and tried to help Cline as she fought the alligator.

The dog was unharmed.

"It's common practice when we have an aggressive alligator like that, we put it down, but it will take some take some time to confirm it's the right alligator," Capt. Robert McCullough of the Department of Natural Resources said in August.

Alligator attacks on humans are extremely rare, Lucas said at the time.

Since 1976, there have only been about 20 attacks on people in the state, he said. Until 2016, none of those attacks had been fatal. In 2016, a 90-year-old woman wandered away from a Charleston assisted living facility and was found dead in a pond.

Blake Smith, a Sea Pines Resort resident who spoke with the Associated Press at the time, said that alligators had been spotted in yards or pools at times, but Sea Pines quickly removed those animals.

"They do a good job. This is just a sad incident," he said. "I have a young son, so it's kind of concerning to see something like this could happen."

Cline's wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Sea Pines was aware of problems with alligators and had a duty to keep the public safe.

"The entire Sea Pines community continues to mourn the tragic loss of Cassandra Cline," Bret Martin, the community's president, said in a statement to ABC affiliate WJCL. "The safety and security of Sea Pines property owners, guests, visitors and staff are of paramount importance to Sea Pines C-S-A. Our council will provide any and all appropriate responses to the court regarding any filings."
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