A BOLT of lightning was how The Palms man Jason Austin described the moment a stingray barbed him in the foot on Monday.
Mr Austin was with wife Ann and children Hunter, 12, and Lacy, 9, visiting Tinnanbar when the Easter long weekend nightmare unfolded.
The family has long enjoyed the Tinnanbar paradise (between Tin Can Bay and Poona) and Mr Austin wasted little time before wetting a line just before noon.
As he waded into the high tide waters, dodging sharp mangrove pencil roots with fishing rod in hand, he stood squarely on a plate-sized stingray hidden by sand.
"Normally I shuffle my feet into the water to be safe but I was dodging the roots," Mr Austin said.
"I just saw the tail (of the stingray) go back and strike near my ankle, two inches above my heel.
"There was this instant sharp burning pain - just agony."
An avid dirt bike rider, the fisherman said he had broken many bones before but nothing compared to the pain he felt.
"I knew we just had to go at that point," Mr Austin said.
Mrs Austin, meanwhile, was 100m up the beach but became aware of her husband's agony when she heard both her children screaming.
"The kids sung out and I thought they were joking at first," Mrs Austin said.
"Then I saw Jason hobbling out of the water and I knew it was something serious."
Mr Austin limped into the passenger seat of the family 4WD and a frantic Mrs Austin drove the family to help on the remote dirt access road.
The secluded location meant mobile reception was unreliable for the couple's son, Hunter, who tried numerous times to maintain a line with emergency services.
"It was commonsense for us to meet the ambulance halfway at Goomboorian but we had trouble getting the information through because the line was so bad," Mrs Austin said.
The two children, fraught with worry, were "freaked out" on the back seat.
"Jason passed out a couple of times in the passenger seat and that scared us all," Mrs Austin said.
"I was trying to drive and keep the kids calm."
Mrs Austin got her husband to Goomboorian where the family met up with waiting paramedics.
He was given four doses of morphine to take the edge of the excruciating pain and was taken to hospital.
There, he was treated by doctors and his foot placed in hot water - the same treatment recommended for being punctured by a stonefish.
Mr Austin was later discharged and told to remain wary of infection.
It was a haunting encounter for the family who had never worried about stingrays before.
"To be honest, after this, I am a little bit frightened about going back in the water," Mr Austin said yesterday, suffering only lingering toe cramps from the ordeal.
The keen angler, however, is not about to give up on his favourite hobby.
"I love it too much," he said.
"My advice for anyone is remember hot water is the best treatment.
"My ordeal would have been so much different had we known."