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Vacationer Killed By Stingray

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Stingray Jumps Out of Water, Kills Woman

An eagle ray lies in a boat off the Florida Keys, March 20, 2008. The eagle ray leaped onto a boat on Thursday and stabbed a woman with its barb, knocking her to the deck and killing her, a Florida wildlife investigator said. REUTERS/Mark Coleman/Monroe County Sheriff's Homicide/Handout (UNITED STATES).

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A Michigan woman vacationing with her husband, children, parents and sister in the Florida Keys died an unimaginable death after a stingray shot out of the ocean and struck her as she was sunbathing on the deck of a boat. The spotted eagle ray weighed about 75 pounds. Preliminary indications are that the woman died from the force of the impact when the eagle ray struck her.


Dead is Judy Kay Zagorski, 55, of Pigeon, Mich., who died on the boat as her parents desperately tried to resuscitate her, reports The Detroit Free Press. The stingray also struck Zagorski's sister, but she suffered only minor injuries and was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon. "It's just as freakish of an accident as I have heard," Jorge Pino of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told CNN. "The chances of this occurring are so remote that most of us are completely astonished that this happened." The accident occurred off the coast of Marathon Key, about an hour's drive south of Miami. Zagorski was taken to Mariner Hospital in Tavernier where she was pronounced dead.

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Stingrays are known to leap out of the water and into the air, especially when they are being pursued, but Pino told CNN, "It's very rare for them to collide with objects." Also called a leopard ray or bonnet skate, eagle rays can measure up to 8 feet long with an 8-foot tail and weigh up to 500 pounds. Steve Irwin, the former host of the "Crocodile Hunter" television show, was killed in 2006 by another type of stingray that pierced his heart while he was filming underwater on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

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