Fla. Woman Impaled in Back by Stingray Barb That Narrowly Missed Her Lungs: 'I'm Still in Shock'

"It was super, super painful," Kristie Cataffo-O’Brien said after the stingray incident

A Florida woman is recovering after a venomous stingray impaled her back — narrowly missing her lungs — while she was visiting a nearby beach.

Kristie Cataffo-O’Brien told WFLA-TV that she and her husband had been hanging out in knee-deep water along the shore of Bahia beach, which is located 24.3 miles south of Tampa Bay, when she felt a stingray’s barb sink into her skin.

“I felt something sting me right away,” Cataffo-O’Brien recalled to the outlet “I felt like it was a jellyfish maybe or something, but it was super, super painful.”

“I started to stand up, and that’s when [my husband] was like, ‘No, don’t move at all, there’s a stingray and it’s on you,' ” she continued.

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Cataffo-O’Brien told WFLA-TV that although the pain of the barb in her back was excruciating, her husband, Thomas O’Brien, helped keep her calm throughout the ordeal.

“The stingray was moving and flopping around and anytime there was a wave, or anything moved, I could feel the barb just driving into my back,” Cataffo-O’Brien said.

She told the outlet that paramedics arrived on the scene about 45 minutes after 911 was called, and she was transported to a nearby hospital, where doctors worked to surgically remove it carefully from her back.

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On a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for her recovery, Cataffo-O’Brien's husband wrote, “The stingray was wounded and dying when Kristie leaned back in the water to get her hair wet, and the stingray got her with two barbs in the muscle of her upper back.”

“The barb [penetrated] about three inches into her and missed her lung by 3cm,” he continued. “She may have nerve damage, it is too soon to tell.”

Cataffo-O’Brien told WFLA-TV that she was on medication to fight off the stingray’s venom and any potential infection she may have gotten from the wound.

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“We’re kind of at the mercy of the marine life. This is their territory, it’s not our territory," she warned the outlet.

“I lived in Florida for a very long time,” Cataffo-O’Brien added. “You never think anything like that can happen, and I’m still in shock."

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