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Man ‘lucky to be alive’ after stingray attack

OCT. 24 — An 81-year-old Florida man was in critical condition after a stingray jumped into his boat last week and stabbed him in the heart with its toxic barb.

The man, who is of Lighthouse Point, was traveling the Intracoastal Waterway last Wednesday afternoon aboard his 16-foot jet boat when a spotted eagle stingray leapt from the water and collided with him mid-air, the Miami Herald newspaper reported. A family friend, who was also on the boat, said the man screamed and she saw the stingray in his lap. Before he could swat it away the stingray stuck its toxic barb into his chest.

The man navigated the boat back to his home where family members say he called 911, the report says. He was taken to an area hospital and underwent a number of surgeries to remove the barb and repair puncture wounds to his chest and heart. Doctors at the hospital were optimistic that the man would survive.

“He's had a lot of surgery in two days. As long as we don't have any problems, God willing, he'll survive this. He's lucky to be alive,” says Eugene Costantini, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at the hospital.”

On Sept. 4 a stingray pierced the heart of "Crocodile Hunter" TV personality Steve Irwin, killing him while he was snorkeling off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

— Jason Fell