In a terrible tragedy, a 5-year-old Florida girl died when a sturgeon struck her after jumping into her boat. Jaylon Rippy, 5, was riding in a boat on the Suwanee River with her mother and 9-year-old brother when she was hit; the sturgeon also hit her mother and brother, who were transported to a Gainesville hospital and will need facial surgery.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there has never been a fatality from a sturgeon strike on the Suwannee River, although four people have been injured by jumping sturgeon in 2015. Sturgeon, which can grow as long as 8 feet and weigh 200 pounds, can leap over 7 feet from the water. They have hard plates along their backs.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the medical care of the family and Jaylon’s funeral.
In 2007, a jumping sturgeon severely injured a 50-year-old woman riding in a boat on the Suwannee River. The sturgeon ruptured her spleen and severed four of her fingers; three were reattached but she lost her little finger.