A Florida woman remained hospitalized Friday after a harrowing day at the beach near Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Kristie O’Brien told Fox 13 News she was wading in knee-deep water at Bahia Beach in Ruskin and leaned back to get her hair wet, when she suddenly felt intense pain.
A stingray had pierced her back with its poisonous barb — and it was still clinging on.
“I was trying to stay as calm as I could, but I was certain that I was going to die,” said O’Brien, who couldn’t help but think of the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, who had a fatal encounter with a stingray in the Great Barrier Reef in 2006.
But O’Brien, a traveling nurse, didn’t die. Emergency crews used shears to cut the fish at the base of its tail, where the stinger is located, and rush her to the hospital.
A picture on a GoFundMe page set up by her husband for her continuing medical care shows the venomous spine still embedded in the Apollo Beach woman’s upper back.
The fundraiser, asking for $5,000, says the barb penetrated about three inches, narrowly missing her lung. Nerve damage is possible, but it’s “too soon to tell.”
So how likely are you to be impaled by a stingray?
Not very, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, which says attacks on humans are rare.
Commonly found buried in the shallow coastal waters of temperate seas, the non-aggressive fish usually don’t bother you if you don’t bother them, as in step on them.
To avoid a run-in, the agency recommends you do the so called Stingray Shuffle: not lifting up your feet as you walk in the water so they sense your presence and move away.