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Medical device catches fire; woman dead

A woman being revived from cardiac arrest died at Memorial Hospital after a defibrillator caught fire and burned her, the hospital said.

Mary Ann Coxey, 63, died Thursday in the intensive medical care unit, said her husband, Charles.

Police were investigating the death as an accident, said Tate Dennis, spokesman for the Ormond Beach police department. A medical examiner will autopsy the body, and the state fire marshal will investigate the blaze, he said.

A statement released by the hospital Thursday night said the burns were minor and did not contribute to the death. The fire broke out when a battery-operated defibrillator malfunctioned during an attempt to resuscitate Mrs. Coxey.

The flames burned her chest and arm. The medical staff, about 8 to 10 nurses and doctors, extinguished the fire with blankets, a saline solution and fire extinguishers while still trying to revive Mrs. Coxey, the statement said.

Towey still makes

living off state

TALLAHASSEE _ The ousted head of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services has been hired by Gov. Lawton Chiles to be a special consultant.

Jim Towey, whom the state Senate refused to confirm as HRS secretary several weeks ago, will make about as much money under the six-month contract as he did as head of the agency.

But the governor's office will split the $95,000 annual salary with the Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University, according to Tom Herndon, Chiles' chief of staff.

Towey's new job will be to monitor proposals in Washington to change the way the federal government distributes welfare money, lobby for Florida and plan ways to deliver services more efficiently.

Snake handler's

condition improves

ORLANDO _ Thanks to a nationwide search for an antidote, a snake-handler is expected to survive an attack by a 12-foot king cobra that bit him in front of visiting children.

George VanHorn, 51, was upgraded from very critical to serious condition this morning after many hours at "death's door," a hospital spokesman said.

He was struck Wednesday at his Reptile World Serpentarium in St. Cloud, about 30 miles south of Orlando. VanHorn milks the snakes and sells the venom to medical laboratories for research.

Shipments of king cobra antivenin from across the country began arriving at the hospital within hours. Many of the 100 vials were provided by a network of zoo curators and herpetologists.

Plane crashes,

pilot survives

MIAMI _ A two-engine Cessna 402 crashed on the western edge of Miami International Airport minutes after being cleared for landing.

The pilot and lone occupant, Khan Pervez, 42, of Miami Springs, was in critical condition Friday night in the trauma center of Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The plane was registered to Air Florida Express, a service that operates between the United States and the Bahamas.

_ Compiled from wire reports.

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