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Woman Wading at Florida Beach Impaled in Back by Stingray

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Woman Wading at Florida Beach Impaled in Back by Stingray

Posted 2023-09-06  by  Stephanie Mallory

The venomous barb missed her lung by mere centimeters

A woman enjoying a day at Bahia Beach in Ruskin, Florida, ended up spending a week in the hospital after she was impaled in the back by a stingray's venomous barb.

According to Fox 13 News, Kristie O'Brien was with her husband on the beach when she decided to wade into knee-deep water.

"As soon as I hit the water, I felt like I had been stung by something," O'Brien said.

When she came out of the water and back on the beach, her husband was horrified to see a live stingray hanging by its tail from his wife's back with its venomous barb puncturing her skin.

O'Brien says the barb was more than four inches deep inside her back, barely missing her lung by centimeters.

She knew not to move and told her husband not to pull the barb out.

"I was trying to stay as calm as I could," O'Brien said, "But I was certain that I was going to die because, I mean, like everyone has like this picture of [television's Crocodile Hunter] Steve Irwin when he literally was punctured and his chest."

Irwin was killed in 2006 when a stingray's barb punctured his chest while he was filming in the Great Barrier Reef.

Paramedics helped free O’Brien from the stingray by using shears to cut the stingray at the base of its tail. At the hospital, a trauma team carefully removed the spine from her back. She remained in the hospital for seven days to receive treatment for poisoning from the stingray's venom and to ward off any possible bacterial infection.

"It's still incredibly sore there. It's like spurts of pain. And they say that's just because of the toxin that's actually in the barb of the stingray itself," she told Fox 13 News.

O'Brien says she plans to get back into the water.

"I'll go back in the water again, probably [just] not in the bay," she said. "But I mean, stingrays are out there and we're in their environment."

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