Following an incident in Ruskin, a woman from Tampa is in the process of recuperating after a venomous stingray impaled her. The barb of the stingray penetrated a few inches into her back, narrowly avoiding her lungs. She is currently recounting her frightening ordeal while hospitalized. Reported by 8 On Your Side.
Kristie Cataffo-O’Brien and her husband enjoyed a day at Bahia Beach, savoring a delicious lunch and soaking up the sun. However, their peaceful outing took a shocking turn when Kristie felt the sharp sting of a stingray’s barb piercing her back, even though they were only knee-deep in the water.
“He was like, ‘Stay still, don’t move,’” said Cataffo-O’Brien. “He was kind of holding my weight and the stingray’s weight in the water.”
She said she’s still in shock.
“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.’”
Cooling off in the water, Cataffo-O’Brien leaned back and her husband helped keep her calm.
“The stingray was moving and flopping around and anytime there was a wave, or anything moved, I could feel the barb just driving into my back,” she said.
Just three centimeters away from puncturing her lung, it was a close call.
Emergency! 911 was desperately called, but help took an agonizingly long 45 minutes to arrive. Racing against time, Cataffo-O’Brien was finally admitted to the hospital, where skilled doctors rapidly intervened by surgically removing the dangerous barb.
“We’re kind of at the mercy of the marine life,” she said. “This is their territory, it’s not our territory. I lived in Florida for a very long time. You never think anything like that can happen, and I’m still in shock.”
Cataffo-O’Brien is taking medication to combat the stingray’s venom and prevent infection.
Support her recovery: Contribute to her GoFundMe for medical expenses while she’s unable to work.