Everglades gator bite victim undergoes surgeries as doctors try to save hand

DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A Central Florida woman underwent two surgeries, hours after, officials said, an alligator nearly bit her hand off in the Everglades, in Northwest Broward.

Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue officials said 49-year-old Kimberly Anne Sexton was bitten in the hand at Willards fish camp, a remote area west of Coral Springs, Friday evening. “She was standing on the dock, dropped a can into the water, and as she reached in to retrieve the can, that’s when she was bitten by the alligator,” said BSO spokesperson Mike Jachles.

Jachles said Sexton’s right hand was nearly severed as she reached for an empty Mountain Dew soda can. “She sustained a severe hand injury that was almost a full amputation of the right hand,” he said.

Two people accompanying Sexton at the camp, about a mile and a half west of the Sawgrass Expressway, near the Palm Beach County line, grabbed her by the legs to keep her from being pulled into the water. “That could have very well saved her life,” said Jachles.

Sexton’s hand was then freed.

Her friends were then able to call 911 on their cellphone and guide in the BSO helicopter, just before 6:30 p.m. The area is only accessible by airboat or helicopter.

The victim, who was visiting the Everglades with her husband from St. Cloud, was airlifted to Broward Health North in critical condition. Officials said she was “semi-conscious” during transport.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials and other investigators gathered at the dock, just north of where the incident occurred, as friends of the victim rushed to the hospital.

Doctors are currently working to see if Sexton’s hand can be saved. Sexton’s husband told 7News she underwent two surgeries and is scheduled for a third procedure on Sunday.

Officials said the six-and-a-half-foot alligator was successfully captured by an authorized trapper.

Alligator attacks are rare, and visitors nearby speculated how this could have happened. “You’ve got to agitate them to get them to do something,” said an onlooker.

“I wouldn’t get too close to them,” said a woman. “I like to stay at a nice distance where I could get some pictures and stuff like that. I mean, they’re very fascinating creatures.”

Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.