Popular and beloved Utah leader is recovering after near death experience

Jul 25, 2022, 7:14 PM | Updated: 7:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A popular and beloved community leader ends up in the ICU after getting multiple spider bites. Her family and friends are now praying for her recovery.

Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, 59, runs the non-profit Pacific Islander foundation called PIK2AR, which stands for Pacific Islander Knowledge to Action Resources. It’s an organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault get the resources they need.

Just over two weeks ago, Susi and her family went to Mirror Lake in the Unitas for a fun picnic and fishing trip. Days later, she started getting really sick.

A week later, they took her to the emergency room, and she was rushed into surgery. The bacteria from the infected wounds was eating away the flesh.

“We thought we may lose her,” said her son Adrian Swenson to KSL-TV. “It looks like if you’ve ever seen a shark bite, it looks like somebody just came and took a huge chunk out of her back”

Susi in the ICU.

Swenson said her mom got 15 spider bites from either one or several Brown Recluse Spiders while the family was at Mirror Lake.

“The wound now is a foot long, eight inches wide and about seven inches deep,” said Swenson.

Last summer, Susi was in Forbes magazine as one of the top 50 most influential women across the country that are over 50 years old. And this month, she was named Utah’s 40 most influential woman over the age of 40.

“She’s got her hands on everything. She’s at it 24 hours a day,” said her assistant Jackie Molifua. “It’s been really hard. Susi is like a big sister to me, and I love her deeply. I’ve been an emotional mess. Like, it’s been really tough.”

Susi eating out. Susi with Utah's AG Susi featured on Forbes magazine.

Fortunately, Susi is making great progress, according to her family. She is now out of the Intensive Care Unit surgery and communicating.

“Susie’s a fighter; she has been fighting her whole life and always comes out on top. So we knew that if she could get past that initial, is this a life or death kind of thing, that she would survive, and that she would be okay,” said Swensen.

There is still no indication when Susi could be released from the hospital, but her organization is moving forward with a big event planned for this Saturday to kick off Pacific Islander Heritage month in August.

A GoFundMe* account has been set up for those wanting to help with medical expenses.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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Popular and beloved Utah leader is recovering after near death experience