High Court to hear arguments in gator attack - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

High Court to hear arguments in gator attack


There's little question that Gwyneth Williams, 83, was brutally attacked by an alligator at The Landings in 2007.

"Jack Douglas actually caught the gator before we got up there. When he opened it up, we were able to determine that this was the gator that had bitten her, "explained Ed Van Otteren, a wildlife technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"She bled to death after being attacked," said attorney Mike Conner.

But what no one has decided is who's responsible for Williams's death. Conner, a managing partner with the Conner Law Group, is representing Williams's family. They blame The Landings.

"They knew the animals were there," explained Conner, "They knew the animals were dangerous. They knew they needed to do something about the animals and didn't do anything about it."

In fact, Conner says The Landings had a policy to remove any alligators more than seven feet long. But he says, they never did. Van Otteren says it's not that easy.

"The Landings doesn't own that alligator," Van Otteren explained. "In fact, if they want to do anything with that alligator, they've got to call us, the Department of Natural Resources, to get a permit, to get that alligator moved."

Van Otteren was there the day Williams's body was found in the pond. He says cases like this can be tricky.

"I am highly surprised the case has gone this far," he said. "Because, you're talking about wildlife and you're talking about wildlife in a natural setting. It was a pond off of a salt marsh. You'd expect alligators there."

But Conner says not all the ponds on The Landings are natural. Williams's family feels the attack could have been prevented.

"They lost a very important part of their family," explained Conner, "They'll never get their grandmother back, they'll never get their mother back."

But they may soon see justice in a courtroom.

Conner and the lawyers for The Landings will present oral arguments before the Georgia Supreme Court in February of next year. WTOC did contact The Landings. They said they were waiting to hear from their lawyers before giving any statements.

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