Vacationing MI woman killed in freak sting ray incident

This is the eagle ray that jumped onto a boat killing a Michigan woman on vacation.
This is the eagle ray that jumped onto a boat killing a Michigan woman on vacation.

UPDATE: A Florida medical examiner has determined that a Michigan woman died from a collision when she was struck by a ray that jumped out of the water in a freak accident.

Pigeon, Mich., resident Judy Kay Zagorski was sitting in the front seat of a boat on Thursday. A 75-pound spotted eagle ray leapt from the water and hit her in the face.

The medical examiner determined Friday morning she died "suddenly from blunt trauma to the head caused by the collision with the eagle ray."

The family requested that no autopsy be performed. Authorities say Zagorski was not stung by the ray's barb. Wildlife officials say such deaths are extremely rare.

MARATHON, Florida (CBS4) - A woman has died in a freak accident in the Keys.

Jorge Pino, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said a woman was on a boat with her family off Marathon when an Eagle Ray jumped out of the water next to the vessel Thursday morning. The animal reportedly struck the 55-year old woman who fell backward and suffered a severe head trauma. 

The identity nor location of the woman has been released. It is not clear at this time if she was killed by a sting or hitting her head on the boat.
The woman, who was from Michigan, died before help could arrive.

Investigators say the victim was aboard a boat with here sister, father, and mother.

An eyewitness told that a child had been injured and was taken to a hospital, but that report has not been confirmed by investigators.

The Eagle Ray is common in the waters off South Florida and the Keys.

These rays can grow extremely large; up to 16 feet in length including the tail with a wingspan of up to 8 feet.  The long tail, which is armed with sharp poisonous barbs, looks like a whip and may be as long as the body. 

Eagle Rays live close to the coast in depths of 3 to 60 feet and in exceptional cases they are found as deep as 900 feet.

The Eagle Ray is most commonly seen along sandy beaches in very shallow waters. The ray's two wings sometimes break the surface and giving the impression of two sharks traveling together.

Posted by LS

Our CBS affiliate CBS4 contributed to this report.