msnbc.com news services
updated 7/23/2004 12:19:36 PM ET 2004-07-23T16:19:36

A woman mauled by a 12-foot alligator died in surgery Friday, WBBH-TV reported.

Janie Melsek, a landscaper, was attacked behind a home on Wednesday. The 54-year-old woman was dragged into a pond before a neighbor and police officers yanked her from the animal’s jaws.

Part of Melsek’s right arm had to be amputated. She also was severely bitten on her buttocks and thighs. She was undergoing additional surgery Friday morning at Lee Memorial Hospital when she died.

Melsek was trimming a tree when the alligator lunged at her and grabbed her arm. “The lady was in the pond and the alligator had hold of her and just her face was showing,” a neighbor, Jim Anholt, told The News-Press of Fort Myers.

“It was kind of a tug-of-war,” said Anholt, who held Melsek’s neck to keep her head above water as three Sanibel police officers tried to get her out of the pond.

Rescuers struggled for about five minutes to get her away from the alligator. When she came free, medical workers began treating her on the shore.

Police later shot the alligator in the head. It took six men to lift the 12-foot, 3-inch animal to shore.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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