(Reuters) - A woman who reached into the water to retrieve an empty soda can while visiting the Florida Everglades was attacked by an alligator that nearly bit her hand off, state wildlife officials said on Saturday.
Kimberly Ann Sexton, 49, was airlifted to a local hospital following the incident on Friday evening and underwent immediate surgery, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“She sustained a severe hand injury that was almost a full amputation of the right hand in the wrist,” Broward Sheriff and Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
A spokeswoman for North Broward Medical Center, where Sexton was taken, said that she was listed in stable condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
According to the wildlife commission’s report, Sexton was on a dock at a fishing camp when she attempted to grab an empty can of Mountain Dew soda that had rolled into the water.”When Mrs Sexton reached down into the water to retrieve the can a 6.5-foot (2-meter) alligator that was under the dock bit the victim on the right hand,” the agency’s report said.
“Two witnesses reacted and grabbed the victim by her legs and kept her from being pulled into the water and were able to free her hand from the alligator’s grasp,” the report said.
The alligator was trapped and removed from the area.
Tammy Sapp, a spokeswoman for the commission, said that alligator bite incidents were rare in Florida but that the wildlife commission worked to keep visitors to the Everglades safe and to remove alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.
“We’re saddened by this incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family,” Sapp said.
In June, a two-year-old boy drowned after being dragged into the water by alligator at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, the world’s most-visited theme park.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Larry King and Sandra Maler