- 30-year-old Nita Kunnumpurath lost control of her car and dived into a canal where she was attacked by alligators.
An India-born Malayali doctor met a gruesome death when she lost control of her car and it fell into a canal filled with alligators in Florida on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. Dr. Nita Kunnumpurath, 30, originally from Illinois who worked at a hospital in Miami, was travelling alone to her home in Naples, Florida when she lost control of the car and it fell into the canal in an area infested by alligators, commonly called Alligator Alley.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol report, Kunnumpurath was driving north on I-75 towards Naples when she drove off the road, into a grass median and then vaulted into a canal where her car started to sink.
A couple in the car just behind her stopped after seeing the accident. The husband got into the canal and pulled Nita out of the car. But when he was trying to bring an unconscious Kunnumpurath out of the canal, alligators rushed towards him. When his wife saw this, she screamed, and he gave up the effort and got out of the canal.
They informed the police, who came and fired at the alligators and brought the unconscious doctor ashore. Rescue workers were able to get into the canal only after one or two alligators were shot dead. However, it was too late, news reports said.
While travelling on I-75 from Naples to Fort Lauderdale, a distance of about 128 km, it is common to see congregations of alligators in the rivers and canals along the highway. It is also common for the alligators to get onto the roads to dry themselves in the sun and in search of prey.
Shocked relatives in her home state of Kerala told the Hindustan Times that Kunnumpurath, who was pursuing her postgraduate studies in surgery in Miami, Florida, wanted to set up a hospital in Wayanad in north Kerala, where she had spent her formative years and studied there till 10th grade.
“Nita was a hard-working girl. She always nurtured a dream to set up a hospital in Wayanad to treat the poor. Charity was in her blood. We could not believe she is no more,” her uncle K. Stephan, who was informed about the fatal accident on Saturday night, told the Hindustan Times.
Her father Thomas Kunnumpurath had migrated to the U.S. after he retired from his government job in India. Her brother is a pharmacist and sister is a physiotherapist.
Her burial will be held in a church in Chicago.