Skip to main content

Woman survives after harpoon shooting by husband

By Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
May 10, 2013 -- Updated 0950 GMT (1750 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The gun misfires as her husband is cleaning it
  • It hits her jaw and mouth before it lodges in her cervical spine
  • "If it had hit 1 cm to the other side ... she would have been dead," neurosurgeon says

(CNN) -- A Brazilian woman escaped death by less than an inch after her husband accidentally shot her in the mouth this week with a harpoon, authorities said.

Elisangela Borborema Rosa, 28, was in her kitchen with her husband Monday night while he was handling the harpoon, according to Rio de Janeiro state health authorities.

The gun misfired and the spear hit her in the mouth and jaw, and finally lodged in her cervical spine, officials said in a statement.

She was taken to an area hospital and doctors expect her to fully recover.

"This is the first case of its kind that we have gotten at the hospital," said Allan da Costa, a neurosurgeon who operated on the woman.

"The peculiarity of the accident is that the tip of harpoon penetrated the region between her top vertebrae and the spinal cord. If the object hit only 1 cm to one side the patient would have become a quadriplegic. If it had hit 1 cm to the other side or reach one artery to the brain, she would have been dead. "

Doctors are keeping her under observation.

"She is moving both sides(of her body), but having a little difficulty on the right side," da Costa. said. "We need to wait for the sedation to wear off and the tracheotomy tube to be removed to make a full assessment. If all goes well, she will be discharged in a week."

This is not the first harpoon accident in the state this year.

Last month, Bruno Barcellos de Souza Coutinho, 34, was cleaning his harpoon when it misfired and pierced the corner of his left eye and his skull.

He was brought to a local hospital conscious and alert and after a four-hour surgery, doctors removed the object without any brain damage.

In Coutinho's case, a neurosurgeon said the harpoon was millimeters away from vital arteries.

The case was considered a rarity and the procedure to remove it was unheard of in the city of Petropolis, just outside of Rio de Janeiro.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT