Jaylon Rippy, a 5-year-old girl from Florida, has died after a sturgeon leapt on her boat when she and her family members were on a boating trip along the Suwannee River in Lake City. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Jaylon was struck by the leaping sturgeon on Thursday evening. Her mother and 9-year-old brother were also injured in the incident. Following the unfortunate mishap, the injured trio were taken to a local hospital in Gainesville where Jaylon was declared dead. The current medical condition of the other two injured remain unknown, Patch reports.
While fishes are known to leap onto boats and jump outside water, this is the first time this has resulted in a fatality — officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed. In fact, they confirmed that this is the fourth time a jumping sturgeon has injured four people this year alone.
A day after the incident in which Jaylon lost her life, two other people were injured — this time in the Santa Fe River. The injured people were identified as Colleen Harvey, 42, and her husband Charles, 41. A month ago, a 14-year-old teen was knocked out by a jumping sturgeon — again while on a family boat trip.
Sturgeons leaping out of the water is a common phenomenon and the fish is known to leap more than seven-feet above the water. The fish, which is also quite large and can grow over eight-feet in length and could weigh up to 200 pounds, can turn into deadly projectiles when they leap out of the water. Sturgeons also have hard, bony plates along their backs which can only aggravate the injuries when they turn into a leaping fish.
According to officials, while sturgeons are known to leap out of water, this year, the number of incidents caused by leaping sturgeons have been on the rise. They blame the lower levels of waters in the rivers to be behind the abnormal rise in the incidents of sturgeon hits.
Before the incident in which Jaylon Rippy lost her life, the most severe case of an injury caused by a leaping sturgeon was reported back in 2007 from the Suwannee river as well. Back then a 50-year-old St.Petersburg woman was severely injured when she was hit by a leaping sturgeon. She suffered a ruptured spleen, a broken tooth, and almost lost three fingers on her left hand.
Following Jaylon’s tragic death, officials have put up warnings across the river banks asking people to be careful of leaping sturgeons. They have also been urged to wear life jackets and avoid sitting near the bow of their boats as a measure to avoid injury.
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