FORT MYERS, Fla. – A woman who was mauled by an alligator died Friday in surgery to treat an infection caused by the animal's vicious bites.
Janie Melsek, 54, died at Lee Memorial Hospital (search). Doctors said her body simply shut down in response to the infection.
"My mom showed more courage than fear and I could not be more proud of her," said Melsek's daughter, Joy Williams, 29. "She's just absolutely amazed me and our whole community with the fight she put up."
Melsek was attacked Wednesday by a 12-foot, 457-pound alligator as she worked on landscaping behind a home on Sanibel Island (search). The alligator dragged her into a pond, tearing at her right arm so severely that part of it was later amputated.
One of the neighbors who heard her screams was joined by police officers to save her from the reptile's jaws in what was described as a fierce "tug-of-war." Police killed the alligator, which was so large it took six men to lift it to shore.
Since 1973, there have been 13 fatal alligator attacks (search) in Florida.