Thursday, July 22, 2004

Gators: Unusual Landscaping Hazards

Landscape work is not without hazards: cuts, scratches, trips and falls, pesticides, back injuries, insects and reptiles. Sometimes BIG reptiles
A Sanibel landscaper who lost part of her right arm Wednesday when a 12-foot alligator dragged her into a pond remained in critical condition Thursday morning.

Janie Melsek, 54, was working on a vacation rental at 3061 Poinciana Circle. She was at the water’s edge about 10 feet from the house when the 400-pound-plus alligator lunged at her and clamped down on her right arm, pulling her into the water.


Melsek, who has worked as a landscape architect for more than 20 years, underwent six hours of surgery at Lee Memorial Hospital on Wednesday evening.

Doctors had to amputate her arm midway between her elbow and her wrist, said her brother, Lee Melsek of Fort Myers Beach. He is a reporter for The News-Press.

“The gator bite almost severed her arm,” he said, adding that his sister suffered extensive damage to her buttocks and inner thighs.
The gator didn't do quote so well. It was shot by a police officer.

UPDATE: Janie Melsek, 54, died Friday at Lee Memorial Hospital. Doctors said her body simply shut down in response to the infection.