A needlefish ran into a 22-year-old Thai naval officer, impaling its sharp jaw into his collarbone and killing him on Tuesday.
The incident occured in the wee hours of Tuesday when Officer 3rd Class Kreangsak Pengpinij of the Royal Thai Marine Corps Communication Unit was completing his 60-hours of training in the seas off Trat province, reported Amarin TV.
Wing Commander Natthapong Sankaew, head of the Royal Thai Marine Corps Training unit, said the accident occurred just when the long training was about to end.
Out of nowhere, a startled school of needlefish suddenly swam towards them. One hit Kreangsak and impaled his collarbone, which caused him to start bleeding heavily. The group quickly rushed him to the nearest port.
However, it, reportedly, took them over an hour to get ashore, leading Kreangsak to die en-route from, what authorities suspect to be, too much blood lost.
Last night, Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine scientist from Kasetsart University, offered his condolences along with a brief explanation of the dagger-shaped fish on his Facebook page.
“Needlefish are not aggressive. Quite the contrary, really. They are very easily startled and jittery creatures. They are afraid of humans,” he wrote.
“This is why this is a very special case. I would suspect that the fish was startled from something else during the incident.”
“The needlefish, in nature, don’t use their sharp jaws to attack others. This is purely an accident. As far as I can recall, this may be the first case of its kind in Thailand.”
This isn’t the first time the creature’s weapon-like jaw has caused horror-movie-esque injuries to humans, however.
In 2007, a 16-year-old Vietnamese boy died after being stabbed through the heart by a needlefish’s 15-centimeter-long spear-like mouth while he was diving in Halong Bay district, 200 kilometers east of Hanoi.
According to Digital Journal, the fish was also suspected to have been startled during the incident, causing it to hit the boy completely by accident.
“It’s a very strange death,” said a Vietnamese policeman about the case.
“People may get killed by sharks, rarely by this kind of fish.”