A Florida woman said she thought she would die after being impaled in the back by a stingray’s venomous tail spine while wading at a beach south of Tampa in Ruskin.
Stingray Attacks Woman
A sunny day at the beach turned into a week-long hospital stay for an Apollo Beach woman after she was punctured in the back on Tuesday by a stingray’s venomous spine.
Kristie O’Brien was visiting Ruskin’s Bahia Beach with her husband when she decided to cool off and waded into the water, which was only about knee-deep when the barb of a stingray impaled her.
The animal’s barb sank a few inches into Kristie Cataffo-O’Brien’s back, barely missing her lungs.
Cataffo-O’Brien described the pain as excruciating.
When she leaned forward to get out of the water, her husband, back on the beach, was horrified by what he saw: a live stingray hanging by its tail from O’Brien’s back, its venomous spine puncturing her skin to the center of her right shoulder.
“I felt something sting me right away. I felt like it was a jellyfish maybe or something, but it was super, super painful,” said Cataffo-O’Brien. “I started to stand up, and that’s when he was like, ‘No, don’t move at all, there’s a stingray and it’s on you.’”
“I was trying to stay as calm as I could,” Kristie O’Brien told FOX 13 this week of the incident at Bahia Beach. “But I was certain that I was going to die because, I mean, like everyone has like this picture of Steve Irwin when he literally was punctured in his chest.”
Irwin was killed by a stingray in 2006 while filming in the Great Barrier Reef.
O’Brien estimates the barb was more than four inches deep inside her back, missing her lung by mere centimeters.
Paramedics freed O’Brien in the water using shears to cut the stingray at the base of its tail. At the hospital, a trauma team carefully removed the spine.
As of Friday, O’Brien was still being treated for poisoning from the stingray’s venom.
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