Florida Gulf Swimmer Hit by Pelican, Gets 25 Stitches

An Ohio woman is recovering after a pelican slammed into her face while she was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.

Debbie Shoemaker of Toledo, Ohio, was swimming Thursday near Treasure Island, a beach community west of St. Petersburg, when she felt something hit her face.

The bird's large beak ripped through her cheek, requiring 25 stitches.

The 50-year-old housecleaner, who vacations in Florida about twice a year, returned home Friday.

Nature has collided with humans in Florida — alligators, fish and even stingrays have caused injuries or deaths — but local officials say they've never heard of a pelican hitting someone with so much force.

An expert surmises the bird was likely diving for fish and hit Shoemaker by accident. The pelican died.