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A Chiefland woman sustained severe injuries after a sturgeon jumped across her boat on the Suwannee River and knocked her over, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Brianne H. Megargel, 31, was airlifted to Shands at the University of Florida on Saturday after the incident. The woman, who was with her husband and his son on their 17-foot boat, broke both of her arms, her collarbone and several ribs, and sustained a lacerated liver and facial trauma, the newspaper said.
Brianne Megargel and her husband, Steve Megargel, were operating the boat at 25 mph when the 70-pound fish jumped and knocked the woman overboard. Her husband’s 10-year-old son was able to bring the boat close to the woman as her husband rescued her from the water.
“I believe if it hadn't been for him that Brianne wouldn't be here today, that she would have drowned,” her father Michael Hart was quoted as saying. “My grandson was still in the boat. He stayed composed enough ... to operate that boat and get it into position where he could get his mama back on board.”
Brianne Megargel remained in the hospital Tuesday, according to the newspaper.
“She is a tough cookie, that's for sure,” Hart was quoted as saying. “She's always been an active person. Now she's in bed with two broken arms and realizing she isn't going to be able to do anything for herself.”
The Gulf sturgeon can grow to more than six feet in length and are covered in bony plates, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. They live in saltwater and travel to freshwater rivers to spawn. The FWC said the Suwannee River, which has signs warning visitors of the spawning sturgeon, has the largest population of the fish in the state and Gulf of Mexico region.
Six people were injured from encounters in 2011, according to Karen Parker of the Fish and Wildlife Service.