Janet Ferreira was in the middle of a cruise with her husband Steve Ferreira and their kids and grandkids to celebrate her 40th anniversary when she was attacked by a dolphin and broke her back, Boston 25 News reported Tueday.
It was August 2019, and the family was traveling in the Caribbean islands and Mexico, the news station reported. They had stopped for a swim with dolphins in Cozumel which Janet had booked through the cruise company, Royal Caribbean, and which had cost hundreds of dollars.
Boston 25 News said Janet was in the water waiting for two dolphins to swim up behind her for a “dolphin tow” when one of the dolphins began charging into her lower back.
“Maybe two seconds after that hit, here comes another one,” Janet told the news station.
“It’s like somebody would take a baseball bat, like David Ortiz would take a baseball bat, and just swing it at my back. You start thinking, ‘If this hits me one more time, I could die,’ die in front of my family and in front of my three young grandchildren.”
Janet told Boston 25 News that the dolphin hit her three times before a trainer intervened
The news station reported that Janet was taken to a local hospital with a broken spine and ribs. Her friends and family worked to get her a medical flight back to Boston to be treated.
“She lied in bed for about a day and a half, without any treatment, until a transport could be arranged,” Janet’s attorney, George Leontire told Boston 25 News.
Janet began walking again after a month, Boston 25 News reported, but she had to quit her job as a teacher due to the permanent damage to her spine.
Janet has filed a lawsuit against Dolphin Discovery Cozumel, the company in charge of the dolphin swim, and Royal Caribbean, the news station reported.
Royal Caribbean declined to comment on pending litigation to Boston 25 News, but in a statement, The Dolphin Company, the parent company of Dolphin Discovery Cozumel, told the news station:
“Above all, safety and security are our number one priority; any type of unplanned experience is very rare yet something we take very seriously. ”
According to Boston 25 News, dolphin attacks are rare, but getting injured while traveling is common and can be a very negative experience.
“You feel alone, you’re helpless. Helpless because we felt that they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how to handle it,” Steve Ferreira told the news station.
Boston 25 News reported that 1 in 5 Americans get hurt on vacation, with car and bike crashes, slips and falls, and food poisoning being the most common reasons.
Whether or not you can receive medical care depends on what country you’re in, Anne Lischwe, a travel advisor with AAA Northeast, told the news station.
She told Boston 25 News that medical care outside of the U.S. is not covered by Medicare and most private health insurance, and that some countries require proof of payment before you can be seen.
Lischwe told the news station that travel insurance, which costs about 3% to 11% of your total trip, can help prevent these scenarios, as they often cover medical expenses abroad and air ambulance rides back to the U.S.
“It’s not necessarily a one size fits all. You want to think about what is important to you, and what are you concerned about,” Lischwe told the news station. “You call one number and they tell you what to do, they’ll tell you what hospital to go to, they’ll walk through all of that.”
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