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Ray leaps from water, kills boater in Florida

March 21, 2008|Mike Clary | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — A vacationer from Michigan out for a family boat ride in the Florida Keys died Thursday when a 75-pound spotted eagle ray flew out of the water and struck her in the head.

Judy Kay Zagorski, 55, is believed to have been killed by blunt force trauma, according to Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Out of nowhere, a spotted eagle ray pops up in front of the boat and collides with the victim," who was standing at the bow, said Pino. The ray was about 5 to 6 feet wide, he said.

"There was nothing anybody could have done in that situation. They were just out having a good time. It's a sad, sad situation."

The accident happened about 10 a.m. as Zagorski's father, Virgil Bouck, 88, was driving the 25-foot boat about 25 mph through Vaca Cut toward the open Atlantic Ocean, Pino said. Investigators think Zagorski and the ray died instantly from the impact, according to Pino.

Also aboard were Zagorski's mother and sister, Pino said. Zagorski's family called 911 as Bouck pulled up to a dock at a house along the waterway, he said.

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