View Full Version : Stingray jumps aboard boat and stabs 81 year old man in the chest

10-19-2006, 09:39 AM


Stingray jumps aboard boat and stabs Lighthouse Point man, 81, in chest

By Sofia Santana and Brian Haas
South Florida Sun-Sentinel and sun-sentinel.com
Posted October 19 2006, 8:36 AM EDT

LIGHTHOUSE POINT -- An 81-year-old resident was in critical condition Thursday morning, a day after a spotted eagle stingray jumped onto his boat in the Intracoastal Waterway and stabbed him in the chest, leaving a foot-long barb stuck in him, authorities said.

James Bertakis underwent open-heart surgery late Wednesday. He was reported in critical, but stable condition on Thursday morning at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. Sarah Howley, spokeswoman for the North Broward Hospital District, said a more detailed update would be issued later.

The accident occurred while retired developer Bertakis was with two of his adult granddaughters on a cruise around 1 p.m. on Wednesday to look at the waterfront mansions in Lighthouse Point.

When the stringray landed in the boat, Bertakis tried to push it back in the water, and that's when he was stabbed, relatives said.

The freak occurrence brought to mind the stingray attack that killed "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin last month and left Bertakis' family in disbelief, said one of Bertakis' granddaughters, from her Grosse Pointe, Mich., home Wednesday night.

One of Bertakis' other granddaughters described the injury Wednesday night: "Every time his heart pumps, it's like a razor blade, it just keeps cutting," said Catherine Bertakis.

The stinger also pierced James Bertakis' lung, said son John Bertakis, from his office at the family business in Roseville, Mich. "Initially it seemed all right, but he lost a lot of blood," he said.

Some relatives were standing vigil at the hospital, relaying details back to relatives in Michigan, where the family owns Bertakis Development Inc. James Bertakis in 1972 founded the company, which specializes in manufactured homes and has property in Michigan and Texas

"We're all in a state of shock right now," John Bertakis said. "We hope health and strength are on his side, he's a strong man."

Catherine Bertakis described her grandfather as an athlete who rarely gets sick.

"He lives in this 35-year-old body," she said. "He should live to be 120 years old."

James Bertakis was conscious after the attack and, with the help of his granddaughters, steered the boat back to his Lighthouse Point home in the 3800 block of Northeast 30th Avenue, where one of them called 911.

Bertakis was conscious when paramedics arrived. Surgeons were able to remove some of the barb, but were not able to locate the rest and feared it may have migrated. Bertakis suffered a closed chest wound and a collapsed lung.

Firefighters and police found Bertakis with a foot-long barb in the left side of his chest.

"He was in pain from the toxins," said Lt. Mike Sullivan of the Lighthouse Point Fire Department.

Firefighters initially took Bertakis to North Broward Medical Center in Deerfield Beach, but hours later he was flown to Broward General in Fort Lauderdale for more treatment. Howley at Broward General initially said Bertakis was listed in critical condition.

The stingray, which was about 5-feet wide, died on the boat, firefighters said. They kept it in a plastic bag and on ice until Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers could pick it up late Wednesday, Sullivan said.

In his 23 years with the fire department, he had never heard of such a stingray attack in Lighthouse Point.

Irwin, the popular, telegenic naturalist from Australia, died Sept. 4 after a similar rare accident. A stingray barb pierced him in the heart while he was filming on the Great Barrier Reef.

Carl Luer, senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, who studies sharks and rays, said spotted eagle rays often jump completely out of the water, although no one is sure why.

"It can be very dramatic," he said.

But certainly this ray had no aggressive intentions toward the boat, he said.

"That's a very unusual accident," Luer said. "I've never heard of an eagle ray jumping into a boat before. But I can tell you it was not trying to jump into the boat. It was a pure accident."

Florida waters harbor four species of rays that have barbed tails: Atlantic stingrays, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays and cownose rays. Anyone who encounters one, whether in a boat or any place else, should not touch it to avoid getting stung, he said.

"The best thing to do is to not try to handle it," Luer said.

Chiefs Pantalones
10-19-2006, 09:41 AM
I bet it's the same f*cker that got Steve Irwin.

10-19-2006, 09:41 AM
They've finally had enough.

10-19-2006, 09:41 AM
Damn stingrays killin people! :cuss:

Someone's got to get control of these things!!! :cuss:

10-19-2006, 09:42 AM

10-19-2006, 09:43 AM
They're mad as hell and they aren't going to take it any more.

10-19-2006, 09:47 AM
Well, we know one thing for sure. These morons in Hollyweird are going to do a new "Jaws" about killer stingrays.

10-19-2006, 09:49 AM
Vyvyan: OK Neil, you might feel a bit of a prick.

Neil: Ohhh. What else is new?

10-19-2006, 09:51 AM
This is starting to remind me about the time our little town was totally overtaken by tarantulas.

10-19-2006, 09:51 AM
That Ray went Irwin. :p

~back under rock~

10-19-2006, 09:52 AM
They're still pissed about never getting their promised Corvettes.

Rain Man
10-19-2006, 09:54 AM
If I have to die someday, I want to die via a flying stingray attack.

10-19-2006, 10:09 AM
They're mad as hell and they aren't going to take it any more.

It is starting to look that way. Middle aged, balding, fat white guys have been getting by with suppressing them to long.

siberian khatru
10-19-2006, 10:10 AM
Looks like Nostradamus was right again.

10-19-2006, 10:17 AM
Never go anywhere without your stingray repellent.


Ultra Peanut
10-19-2006, 10:25 AM
That stingray is one victim away from technically beginning a spree.

Archie F. Swin
10-19-2006, 10:37 AM
Apparently one of the mansion owners has a guard stingray.