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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Just Cut the Line

A few weeks ago, while fishing off the dock at our condo in Florida, my daughter, Karen, caught what we thought was a big fish. As she was reeling it in, and it broke the surface, it turned out to be a stingray – about two and one half pounds in weight. She brought the fish onto the dock and was trying to take the hook out of the fish’s mouth when her leg was pierced by the serrated poisonous spine of the stingray.

There was immediate pain, which was more than my daughter could handle. She began to cry with blood spurting out of her leg. I tried to calm down her two boys, 10 and 8. They were crying out of fear for their mother. With blood all over the dock, and fishing rods almost everywhere, two men who happened to be on the dock came over to help. One of the men took off a belt with a clamp on it, and wrapped it around her leg. That caused the bleeding to subside. In the meantime, 911 was called and the gate guard at our condo escorted the Emergency Vehicle back to the dock area. Karen was first put in a wheel barrel to get her off of the 700-foot dock, and the pain remained excruciating. The gate guard, it turned out, had been an Army Medic, and he immediately elevated her leg. Now, she was off to the Emergency Room of a nearby hospital with the boys taken back to the condo to be with my wife. I followed the vehicle and my daughter was immediately taken into the Emergency Room where the first treatment was very hot water, which calmed down the tearful pain. After more hot water and antibiotics, Karen was released to go home. We first stopped and bought a new pair of sandals and filled the prescription for antibiotics.

As we arrived back at the condo, her two boys could not be happier to see their mother walking and in less pain. There was more hot water and then she went off to bed. I can report that she is now fine.

Stingrays are found up north, as well. They can be of equal danger if one of them feels threatened. The best advice that I can give if, while fishing, you land a stingray – just cut the line. It is not worth saving a 35 cent hook to go through the experience of my daughter.

All of this also reminded us of what happened to Steven Irwin, television’s “Crocodile Hunter” back in 2006. A giant Australian stingray attacked Irwin as he was filming a TV show on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. His heart was pierced by the stingray, and he died as he tried to pull the barb from his chest.

Based on all of the above, all I can say again is that if you catch a stingray, please remember to just “cut the line.”

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