A GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the funeral of a 5-year-old girl killed Thursday after being hit by a leaping sturgeon while on a family boat outing in Florida had raised nearly $9,000 Saturday night, NBC News reported. The girl, Jaylon Rippy, was with her family on the Suwanee River near Fanning Springs, Florida, about 40 miles west of Gainsville. Her mother, Tanya Faye, 31, and brother, Trevor, 9, were injured by the jumping fish.
Jaylon's death represented the first fatality in such an event this year. Two other people were injured Friday on the Sante Fe River, also in Florida.
The GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign asked for funds to cover the cost of Jaylon Rippy's funeral as well as medical expenses, including possible surgeries, for her brother and mother. As of Saturday night, 173 people had donated $8,835, out of a goal of $25,000.
Death or injury by leaping sturgeon may sound far-fetched, but the prehistoric fish is known for leaving a trail of destruction when it jumps out of the water, a behavior biologists have long struggled to explain. The species in the Gulf of Mexico can grow to 9 feet and weigh 200 pounds, according to National Geographic. They are protected by a sheath of armored scales and can jump as high as 8 feet.
For boaters, these leaping fish are one of the hazards of being on the water. Those hit by this ancient species have suffered concussions, broken ribs and other bones, cracked teeth and a collapsed lung. In 2007, a 32-year-old woman, also boating on the Suwannee River, was knocked unconscious when a sturgeon leaped out of water.
"With the low water levels in the river system, the sturgeon are jumping much more frequently than in recent years," said Maj.
The largest sturgeon ever recorded caught was estimated to weigh 1,100 pounds and believed to be 100 years old.