A 5-year-old Florida girl was killed when a sturgeon jumped out of the water and into the family’s boat, NBC News is reporting. The girl’s mother and brother were also severely injured in the incident.
Jaylon Rippy and her family were out on a family boat outing last Thursday on the Suwanee River in northern Florida when the sturgeon, for unknown reasons, leaped out of the water and landed in the family’s boat.
Jaylon’s mother, 31-year-old Tanya Faye, and her brother, 9-year-old Trevor, were also injured, according to the International Business Times. Both were airlifted to a nearby hospital.
This is not the first time someone has been injured by a jumping sturgeon in Florida this year, although Jaylon is the first fatality from such an accident. Two other people were injured by jumping sturgeon last week on Florida’s Santa Fe River.
In fact, jumping sturgeon are a hazard for boaters anywhere where the giant fish are known to live. Biologists aren’t clear about why, exactly, the prehistoric fish jump out of the water, but when they do, the damage they cause can be horrific: boaters have suffered broken ribs, concussions, and even a collapsed lung from being hit by flying sturgeons.
The species of sturgeon that lives in the Suwanee River, where Jaylon was struck and killed, can grow up to eight feet long and weigh over 200 pounds.
Major Andy Krause, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, notes that leaping sturgeon injuries are on the increase.
“With the low water levels in the river system, the sturgeon are jumping much more frequently than in recent years. We want everyone boating on the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers to be aware that the sturgeon are jumping and that people have been injured.”
Sturgeons aren’t the only fish that are known to leap out of the water and injure boaters. The Asian Carp, an invasive species in the Upper Midwest, also has a fondness for jumping out of the water; several boaters have been injured in collisions with the fish, according to this Inquisitr report.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for funeral expenses for Jaylon and for medical expenses for her mother and brother.
“The Rippy family was involved in an accident on Thursday, July 2, 2015 where a sturgeon collided with their boat. Their precious baby Jayln became an angel early July 3, 2015. Tanya and Trevor will both have to see specialist and face possible surgeries. This family will also face the cost of the funeral.”
As of this post, the crowdfunding campaign for the Florida girl killed by a sturgeon has raised over $10,000.
[Images courtesy of: Shutterstock/Kletr, GoFundMe]