A woman whose close encounter with a deadly stingray saw her impaled is lucky to be alive after the animal missed her lung.
Kristie O'Brien had been wading in knee deep water in Tampa, Florida, United States, when she was stabbed in the back by a Southern stingray.
Her relaxing trip to the beach took a turn when the venomous animal impaled her, with its stinger heading four inches deep inside Kristie, narrowly missing her lung by centimetres.
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Ms O'Brien was "certain she was going to die", with the animal group responsible for the death of infamous Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, back in 2006.
Kristie said: "I was trying to stay as calm as I could. But I was certain that I was going to die because, I mean, like everyone has like this picture of Steve Irwin when he literally was punctured in his chest.
"As soon as I hit the water, I felt like I had been stung by something."
Her husband found her with the stingray still lodged inside of her, while Kristie knew to leave the beast well alone until paramedics could cut off the tail.
The stingray spine was later cut off at a hospital where Kristie rested for a few days and was treated for a possible poisoning.
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She added: "It's still incredibly sore there. It's like spurts of pain. And they say that's just because of the toxin that's actually in the barb of the stingray itself."
Stingray attacks in shallow water are not particularly uncommon according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
They wrote: " Because southern stingrays share this zone with humans, occasionally, a human might step on them and possibly get injured by a sharp, serrated spine attached at the base of the tail.
"This venomous spine is used for defence only and can be regrown if removed."
Kristie has confirmed she will return to the waters, although "probably not the bay" where she received her horror sting.
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