SANIBEL, Fla. – A 12-foot alligator (search) attacked a landscaper Wednesday behind an island home, dragging her into a pond before a neighbor and police officers yanked the woman from the animal's jaws.
"It was kind of a tug-of-war," said the neighbor, Jim Anholt.
Part of Janie Melsek's right arm had to be amputated later during six hours of surgery. She also was severely bitten on her buttocks and thighs, but doctors believe she will walk again, her family said. She remained in critical condition.
Melsek, 54, was trimming a tree when the alligator attacked. "The lady was in the pond and the alligator had hold of her and just her face was showing," Anholt told The News-Press of Fort Myers.
He rushed to help, holding Melsek's neck to help keep her head above water, and three Sanibel police officers tried to get her out of the water.
Rescuers struggled for about five minutes to pull her from the pond. When she came free, medical workers began treating her on the shore.
Police shot the alligator in the head, killing it. It took six men to lift the 12-foot, 3-inch animal to shore.
The body was being sent to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (search), which will perform a necropsy.