*** almost killed when needle-nosed fish
stabs her in neck
April 19, 2000
Web posted at: 6:55 AM EDT (1055 GMT)
BIG PINE KEY, Florida (AP) -- A 17-year-old girl
snorkeling for the first time
was almost killed when a needle-nosed houndfish
jumped out of the water in the
Florida Keys and struck her in the neck.
Stephanie Mittler was recovering Tuesday after
emergency surgery to close her
wounds and remove two pieces of the fish's serrated
bill, including one that
came within a millimeter of her carotid artery.
Stephanie, her sister Jennifer and a friend were
snorkeling Sunday in the waters
of the Florida Keys. Stephanie was standing in
chest-high water when the fish
jumped from the ocean and struck her in the neck.
"*** was just gushing from my neck," she said from
her hospital bed, her
voice weak and raspy. "It was pretty scary."
Jennifer and the friend surfaced and found Stephanie
Thinking she had been attacked by a shark, the girls
pushed Stephanie onto their
pontoon boat and hurried her to shore. She was then
rushed to the hospital.
Houndfish are related to needlefish, average between
three and six pounds and
are feared by fishermen because they can leap from
the water and inflict stab
wounds when startled.
Laura Mittler, Stephanie's mother, said it is
"ironic" her daughter was injured by a
"She hates seafood and she hates fish," Mittler said.
"I told her the fish gods have
gotten back at her for hating them so much."