A 5-year-old girl was killed Thursday night by a freshwater fish that leaped into the boat she was in as her mother and her 9-year-old brother watched in horror.
Jaylon Rippy’s death was reported by Florida wildlife officials. Her mother and brother, who were in the boat with her on the Suwannee River, were also injured, according to the New York Post.
At least four people have been injured in the past from sturgeon on the Suwannee, including a 14-year-old boy who was knocked unconscious last month. The girl’s death was the first fatality.
The Post reported:
In 2007, a leaping sturgeon severely injured a 50-year-old woman from St. Petersburg as she was riding a personal watercraft along the Suwannee River. She suffered a ruptured spleen and had three fingers reattached by surgeons, but she lost her left pinkie finger and a tooth.
The fish usually return to the area in the spring, but their acrobatics often depend on the water levels. This year’s low levels are causing the sturgeon to jump more frequently than in recent years. Biologists aren’t sure why they jump, but they assure boaters that the fish aren’t trying to attack people.
Boaters are urged to avoid sitting in the bow and cautioned to wear life jackets at all times.
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