Rural View resident Jason McGarrigle and his partner Kristy Jordan came to the aid of a Mackay woman who was stung by a suspected stingray at Cape Hillsborough on Friday, January 29, 2021. Picture: Contributed.
Rural View resident Jason McGarrigle and his partner Kristy Jordan came to the aid of a Mackay woman who was stung by a suspected stingray at Cape Hillsborough on Friday, January 29, 2021. Picture: Contributed.

‘She was howling’: Miner rescues woman after stingray attack

A miner and his partner have rescued a woman who was left paralysed after a suspected stingray puncture to her leg at a popular Mackay beach.

Rural View residents Jason McGarrigle and Kristy Jordan were sightseeing at Cape Hillsborough about lunchtime on Friday when they spotted the woman dragging her leg.

"When we got there, she was laying in the sun getting dehydrated," Mr McGarrigle said.

"She couldn't walk, there was no way in the world.

"At first, she couldn't tell me what she was stung by.

"In around her ankle, there was a lot of blood.

"At first it wasn't too bad, she only had a little pain.

"She kept saying, 'No ambulance, no ambulance'.

"I said, 'No, have a look at you. There's blood everywhere.'"

Kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough. Picture: Rae Wilson
Kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough. Picture: Rae Wilson

Mr McGarrigle said without mobile reception on the beach, they sought help from the nearby Queensland Parks and Wildlife building.

But with no available hot water, as the Queensland Ambulance Service had advised to administer until they arrived, they turned to Mel at the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park.

Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park owner Ben Atherton.
Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park owner Ben Atherton.

"The people at the caravan park were superb, they just took over," he said.

"We had a Thermos with hot water, towels and that."

Mr McGarrigle said they carried the stung woman into the shade and tried to keep her spirits up until paramedics arrived at the location about a 40 minute drive from Mackay.

"In the end, she was holding the (paramedic) and saying (to us), 'Thank Christ you got one'," he said.

"She was screaming by then."

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He said the woman, who was wearing a two-piece swimming suit, had been alone on the beach with her pet dog.

"I thought this was going to be a backpacker for sure," Mr McGarrigle said.

"She said she was from Mackay.

"She told me she was walking around the rocks.

Cape Hillsborough. Picture: Rae Wilson
Cape Hillsborough. Picture: Rae Wilson

"She said she'd seen a (stingray) earlier on while she was swimming.

"The first thing you think of is Steve Irwin, not being rude.

"That's when I thought, 'Shit, they can kill her'.

"I'm from New South Wales; I just thought, this time of year, you don't swim from November to March."

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Mr McGarrigle said paramedics advised the woman's pain would worsen in the ensuing 48 hours and that she had since undergone surgery.

It is not the first time a person has been stung by a stingray in the Seaforth area.

Kevin Petith, who once ran the Seaforth Recreation Camp, said in the '90s a man stepped on a stingray at Newry Island.

And a child's foot was sliced open during an educational camp at Seaforth beach.

The Daily Mercury has contacted the Mackay Hospital and Health Service for an update on the woman's condition.


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