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Boater injured by fish

APRIL 26 — A Florida woman out for a boat ride Saturday with her fiancée was taken to an area hospital after a 3-foot Gulf sturgeon jumped out of the water and hit her in the face.

The fish struck Dawn E. Poirer, who is 31 and of Kenneth City, Fla., and knocked her off her feet, the Gainesville Sun newspaper reported. The impact was apparently so severe that Poirer suffered several facial injuries and fractures, needed numerous stitches to her lips and wrist, had abrasions on her shoulders, and fractured her spine in the fall, according to the report.

“It’s like she slammed into a brick wall,” Poirer’s father, Ed White, says in the report.

Poirer was in the 19-foot boat with her fiancée, Johnston R. Staples III, 39, of St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., when the accident happened, the report says. The couple was traveling south on the SuwanneeRiver near Bell, Fla., at about 30 to 35 mph when the fish leapt out of the water. In addition to Poirer’s injuries the fish reportedly caused $1,000 in damage to the boat.

There have been at least four reports of injuries associated with leaping sturgeons in north central Florida in recent years, the report says. In 2002 a woman suffered a collapsed lung and five broken ribs when a sturgeon jumped from the SuwanneeRiver into her family’s boat. Gulf sturgeon, which can measure up to 8 feet long and weigh 200 pounds, can jump as high as 8 feet out of the water, according to the report.

Poirer was taken to an area hospital where she received plastic surgery and was listed in fair condition, the report says.

— Jason Fell