LAKE CITY, FL (WESH) — A 5-year-old Florida girl riding in a boat has died after a sturgeon leaped from the Suwannee River and struck her.
Wildlife officials said Jaylon Rippy died after being struck Thursday night. Her mother and 9-year-old brother were also injured and taken to a Gainesville hospital. Their condition was not known.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said this is the first fatality recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwannee River. Four people have been injured by jumping sturgeon this year. The fish are known for leaping more than 7 feet above the water. They can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds and can cause serious injuries.
The FWC posted on their Facebook page protect that boaters should protect themselves by wearing a life jacket, go slow and stay off the bow of the boat, especially if there are fish jumping around. Anyone who encounters a sturgeon, should report the incident at 888-404-3922. The FWC says the largest number of sturgeon are in the Suwannee River, but sturgeon are also in seven major Florida Panhandle rivers: Apalachicola, Choctawhatchee, Yellow, Blackwater, Escambia, Pearl and Pascagoula.
MORE STORIES FROM WFLA.COM