Florida Woman Survives Near-Fatal Stingray Encounter at Local Beach

A Florida resident, Kristie Cataffo-O’Brien, is on the road to recovery after a harrowing encounter with a venomous stingray at a local beach. The incident occurred while she and her husband were enjoying the shallow waters of Bahia Beach, located approximately 24 miles south of Tampa Bay. Cataffo-O’Brien was impaled by the stingray’s barb, which narrowly missed her lungs.

Cataffo-O’Brien described the initial sensation as a sharp sting, initially attributing it to a jellyfish. However, the pain intensified, and her husband quickly identified the culprit as a stingray. He urged her not to move as the creature was still attached to her.

Despite the excruciating pain, Cataffo-O’Brien’s husband, Thomas, managed to keep her calm during the ordeal. She described the stingray’s movements and the sensation of the barb digging deeper into her back with each wave.

Emergency services arrived approximately 45 minutes after the 911 call was made. Cataffo-O’Brien was then transported to a nearby hospital, where doctors carefully removed the barb from her back.

On a GoFundMe page set up to aid in Cataffo-O’Brien’s recovery, her husband detailed the incident. He explained that the stingray was injured and dying when it impaled his wife with two barbs in her upper back. The barb penetrated about three inches into her body, missing her lung by a mere 3cm. He also mentioned the possibility of nerve damage, although it was too early to confirm.

Cataffo-O’Brien is currently on medication to counteract the stingray’s venom and prevent any potential infection from the wound. She expressed a newfound respect for marine life, acknowledging that humans are intruders in their territory. Despite living in Florida for many years, she admitted that she never expected to experience such an incident and is still in shock.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises beachgoers to perform the “stingray shuffle” in shallow waters to avoid stepping on stingrays, which often bury themselves under the sand.