Man Impales Own Heart in 'Freak' Fishing Accident

A South Dakota man said that surviving having his heart impaled while reeling in a fish earlier this month "was better than winning the lottery."

Todd Thesenvitz was reeling in a northern pike fish at a lake near the city of Clark, South Dakota, at around 11:15 a.m. on July 7 when part of his gear broke, causing a section of his fishing hook to fly into his chest, according to a Facebook post by his wife Marie Thesenvitz.

"I seen the bottom bouncer come flying towards me like in slow motion," he explained to NBC affiliate KELO about the ordeal. "Well I thought it just hit me in the chest, but when it hit me in the chest I felt something right here and then I realized that it was stuck inside of me."

He explained to the local outlet that he looked down and saw that the hook had gone into the "left ventricle in my heart. There's a sack around your heart. It went through that and into the heart muscle itself."

His wife and his daughter, Keanna Thesenvitz, who is a nurse, joined him on the fishing trip and the pair helped him through the ordeal as they took him back to land to get medical attention.

His daughter said that her first thought was to not pull the hook out, but explained that it was difficult as "whenever anything happens, you instantly want to get it out of you cause you think that would help."

Todd Thesenvitz's wife drove the family's boat back to the landing at the lake, where first responders were waiting for her husband, but explained to KELO that the journey back to land was difficult.

"Every wave that it hit was making him scream in more pain, so it was nerve-racking, and I just had to kind of keep looking over my shoulder, but I knew that Keanna had him and I knew she was going to take care of him," Marie Thesenvitz said.

After the boat got back to land, Todd Thesenvitz was taken to a local hospital before being airlifted to Sioux Falls where he underwent successful surgery to remove the hook from his chest.

"They're like it's a one in a million chance that you're still here with us. Had I pulled it out, they said within 30 minutes you'd definitely been dead," he said, before adding that surviving the ordeal was "better than winning the lottery."

In the Facebook post Marie Thesenvitz said that the surgeon told her that "there was no reason Todd was still alive," and informed her that "a lesser man would be dead."

She called the incident a "freak accident" and thanked people for their "prayers and your positive energies! My husband is alive and healing."

Although he is currently not allowed to lift anything weighing more than 10 pounds, Todd Thesenvitz told KELO that he is doing well, as his wife said that "we are truly blessed. Truly, truly blessed."

Fishing hook strikes man's chest
File photo of a sunrise over the marsh with man holding a fly rod and reel. A South Dakota man has said that surviving having his heart impaled by a fishing hook while reeling in a fish earlier this month "was better than winning the lottery." campbellphotostudio/iStock / Getty Images Plus