Lighthouse Point man stabbed in chest by stingray

By | October 19, 2006

Lighthouse Point man stabbed in chest by stingray

An 81-year-old boater was in critical condition Thursday after a stingray flopped onto his boat and stung him, leaving a foot-long barb in his chest, authorities said.

… Fatal stingray attacks like the one that killed “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin last month are rare, marine experts say. Rays reflexively deploy a sharp spine in their tails when frightened, but the venom coating the barb usually causes just a painful sting for humans.

… James Bertakis of Lighthouse Point was on the water with his granddaughter and a friend Wednesday when the stingray flopped onto the boat and stung Bertakis. The women steered the boat to shore and called 911. Bertakis was apparently trying to remove the spotted eagle ray from the boat when he was stung, police Cmdr. Mike Oh said. The ray was approximately 3 feet across and 18 to 24 inches long, Oh said. Officials have kept the dead ray in case doctors need to examine it, Oh said.

I think the rays are talking… spreading the word about how to kill strange deadly land beasts who are depleting the oceans.

Bertakis underwent surgery late Wednesday and early Thursday and doctors were able to remove the barb, which appears to have lodged near or in his heart, said Dr. Eugene Costantini at Broward General Medical Center. He also had a partially collapsed lung. Costantini said the heart’s contractions pulled the barb in. Doctors were able to pull the barb through his heart and close the wound. Bertakis’s case was different from that of Irwin’s because the barb stayed in Bertakis’ heart and was not pulled out, Costantini said.

Though he said it is rare to see a puncture wound made by a stingray barb, similar injuries are created by objects like knives. Those objects should not be taken out except in the operating room, he said, because they create holes that will bleed. “We pulled it through just like a fish hook,” Costantini said. – AP

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