She was attacked by an alligator while walking in her backyard.
Now for the first time, the victim is talking about what happened and thanking the men who helped save her life.
Deborah Cook reached out to News 3 for one reason, to say thank you.
Not to us, but to the first responders who came to her aid back in August, just moments after she was brutally attacked by an alligator in her own backyard.
“The alligator clamping on my leg. Getting me down. Then crawling up and biting my hand which I thought he bit off. And I was so angry. I didn’t want to die like that,” remembers Deborah Cook.
The memories are still vivid for Deborah Cook. She can still see the moments when an alligator attacked her as she walked her dog next to her home.
Deborah’s hand was nearly torn off and her calf bitten in half by the reptile. But she wasn’t giving up without a fight.
“His face was here near me and I just started punching him in his eyes,” says Deborah as she shows her boxing skills. “I thought I’m going to punish you. Miraculously he turned around and left.”
Her husband Gary called 911 for help.
911 CALL: “I need to know how much she’s bleeding..if it’s been amputated or if she just got bit”
Gary Cook: “Badly!” “Her right leg and her hand is almost chewed off”.
Then the men who she calls her heroes, the EMT and Beaufort County EMS, showed up.
“All of you your efforts go unsung and I didn’t want to let this go without thanking you,” a tearful Cook told the men.
Four first responders, Captain George Brown, Paramedic Reid Colton, Advanced EMT Robert Bastian, and Engineer Kevin Etheredge. They all quickly went into action, leaving the station, answering the call and helping this woman in need. All four say they were just doing their job. That job, to save Deborah’s life.
“(When we get called out) We just immediately go back to our training and what we are supposed to do,” explained Captain George Brown. “We don’t get wrapped up in the whole scene and sights of it. we just do what we are trained to do.”
“Any life threats were addressed,” says Paramedic Reid Colton. “We had plenty of people to get her to the truck. From there on out it was just a trip to Savannah because what she really needed then was surgeons and advanced medical care.”
The four men and Deborah are now friends forever.
She offered thanks and hugs to all of them for their hard work that day and every day.
She wasn’t alone. Deborah even brought a whole crowd of friends from Sun City with her to thank them and to honor them for what they did to keep her alive that night, and what they do every night for our community.
“We are just so fortunate to have these trained professionals here in our community and they mean the world to me and anyone else who will ever meet them,” says an emotional Deborah. “They saved me.”
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says the alligator wandered several yards away from the nearest pond and snapped at the woman in the dark.
The animal has since been euthanized.
But Cook has still made sure alligator safety is job one for her, and everyone in Sun City these days.
She still has a large chunk of her calf missing and is going through physical therapy to regain some use of her hand. Doctors say she is already ahead of schedule.
Deborah isn’t going to let her injuries stop her.
Her big goals? To drive a car again, and to play pickleball with her friends.