Leaping Sturgeon Kills 5-Year-Old Florida Girl Boating With Family

by Elisha Fieldstadt /  / Updated 
Rippy Family
Tanya Faye Rippy and her 5-year-old daughter, Jaylon Rippy.

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A 5-year-old girl was killed Thursday after a sturgeon leaped out of a northern Florida river and struck her while she was boating with her family, state wildlife officials said.

Jaylon Rippy died after getting hit by the fish on the Suwannee River, south of Lake City, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement posted on the Suwannee Democrat Bulletin.

Her mother, Tanya Faye Rippy, and 9-year-old brother, Trevor Rippy, were injured by the flying fish as well, the statement said.

Rippy Family
Tanya Faye Rippy and her 5-year-old daughter, Jaylon Rippy.

Members of the family — from the town of Trenton, about 30 miles south of the river — were airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, officials added.

A GoFundMe account set up for the Rippy family to cover funeral expenses and medical costs had raised more than $8,000 by Saturday night.

The type of sturgeon in the Suwannee River are known for leaping and can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh 200 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A jumping sturgeon on the Suwannee River.
A jumping sturgeon on the Suwannee River.Florida Fish and Wildlife

Thursday's death was the first to be recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwannee River, although a teenager was knocked unconscious last month by one of the large, leaping fish while boating on the river.

Three other people have been injured by sturgeon in Florida this year, state wildlife officials said.

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