DANVILLE — Longtime Town Councilman Mike Shimansky is in a hospital intensive care unit recovering from a bacterial infection that necessitated amputation of both his legs.
Shimansky, 65, a Pacific Bell retiree, is in a San Diego-area hospital recovering from bacterial meningitis, according to town officials. Councilwoman Candace Andersen said Shimansky has been in a drug-induced coma since he was admitted.
On Friday, complications from the illness forced doctors to amputate both of his legs below the knee, several sources have reported.
"It's just taken all of us by complete shock. At this point I think we're just waiting to hear what his prognosis is," Andersen said.
Shimansky had been visiting his son, daughter and grandchildren in San Diego when he "suddenly came down with flu-like symptoms," she said. The symptoms escalated and he was admitted to the hospital.
Despite the seriousness of his condition, Andersen said his friends and family remain optimistic he will pull through.
Shimansky, a Red Cross volunteer who worked in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina, is also a longtime youth soccer referee for the Mustang Soccer League.
"Mike's a very strong and determined man. He's just the type of person who would be back out there very quickly," Andersen said. "We're very hopeful given his determination and strong spirit that he'll be back out there doing what he was doing before."
His condition has stabilized, but doctors are continuing to treat the meningitis and secondary conditions resulting from the infection.
Shimansky, a three-time Danville mayor, has served on the council since 1989. The mayoral position is rotated annually among council members, who serve four-year terms. He was last re-elected in November 2006 along with fellow incumbent Karen Stepper.
Arnerich said despite what happens during elections the council works together for the town.
"We're all in it for the same reason," said Arnerich, the current mayor. "Mike has been serving on the Town Council longer than anybody. We are praying for him."
Arnerich said it is unknown when Shimansky might return.
Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said, "We were just shocked and saddened to hear what had occurred."
As long as absences are excused — as they are for medical reasons such as this — there is no limit to how many meetings a council member may miss, Calabrigo said.
Harold Brooks, chief executive of the Bay Area chapter of the American Red Cross and a longtime friend of Shimansky's, called the news "heartbreaking."
Brooks met Shimansky in 1997 when Shimansky was on the organization's board of directors. He continued to volunteer as a Red Cross spokesman and hands-on caregiver, traveling to Southern California to assist with wildfire relief in 2003 and 2007, and to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Brooks said.
"He did the big spokesperson stuff but also did the serving-people roles," Brooks said, adding, "He's been a tireless, very helpful volunteer for so many years. We really appreciate what Mike has done and meant to us."
Shimansky lives with his wife, Sue, and daughter Cyndi, according to the town. His son Greg and daughter Lori live in the San Diego area with their respective families. Messages can be left at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cards can be sent to the town offices at 510 La Honda Way, Danville, CA 94526.
Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123. Reach Jeanine Benca at 925-847-2125.