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From: (Scott Brown)
Subject: Sandy Rossi SBE miniflood - sandyros.txt(1/1) 2737 bytes
Date: 16 Jul 1998 01:56:04 GMT
Organization: XMission (801 539 0852)


Injury can't diminish botanist's spirit

By Anna-Liza Kozma (Special to the Tribune)

Losing an arm to a crocodile in Zaire might ruin anyone's taste for
adventure, but not Sandy Rossi's.

Rossi, 28, a botanist from St. Charles, Mo., will return this
summer to the area along the Epulu River where last year a
crocodile bit off her left arm.

After a year of recovering at home, Rossi is ready to return to her
work teaching children and helping to catalogue the plants of the
rain forest.

"I want to get back in the saddle and get rid of my ghosts," she
said. "I've got to go back. After all, that croc has my watch."

The recovery has been an ordeal for Rossi, even though her medical
insurance has paid more than $95,000 in treatment.

"For eight months I had daily physical therapy," she said. "I'm now
working out six times a week to get back in shape so I'll be able
to withstand the rigors of African life."

A year after losing her arm, Rossi says she still wakes up in the
night with a sensation known as phantom limb pain.

The tragedy happened while Rossi Was washing her hair in the Epulu
River last spring.

"There was no running water where we were living," she said. "And
for the past 20 years the river was a very safe place to bathe.
Since my accident, we've found out a lot of things about that
crocodile and how he came to be in the river. He was a Nile croc,
not a local species, and he'd probably been pushed out of his local
habitat and migrated down. I was bathing in the water and he

A colleague leaped into the water to try to rescue her.

"We fought with him [the crocodile] for about 20 minutes," she
said. "Eventually he got tired. I got loose, but my arm didn't.

"Every single day I have to come to terms with the fact that I
don't have an arm. It's not an absolutely terrible thing to get
used to, but it's an ongoing process."

But why is she returning to the location of the tragedy?

"First of all, I have my work to do. I'm going to be tutoring the
children of the research team as well as doing botany. There's some
wonderful field research going on, cataloguing the plant species in
the Epulu Forest."

There's also a more spiritual reason for the return. Rossi believes
that going back to Zaire will complete the healing process that the
physical therapy started. "Being there, living and functioning
again in the place where the tragedy happened will be good in
itself," she said. "It'll help to exorcise the ghosts. The best
returns to worst, and worst returns to laughter."

Picture caption reads: Sandy Rossi pets her dog, Jericho.

Story originally appeared in the Sunday June 12, 1994, Chicago