A Florida woman who suffered a broken back after jumping off a pier to save a drowning boy is struggling to cover her mounting hospital bills because she doesn’t have insurance, loved ones said.
Hanna Pignato, 19, was working as a waitress at Joe’s Crab Shack in Daytona Beach Saturday when she saw an 8-year-old child struggling in a rip current after being separated from his boogie board.
A strong surfer and swimmer in her own right, Pignato sprang into action as the boy’s frantic family looked for help.
“She was screaming,” Pignato said of the child’s mother to WESH 2 News. “And I was scared. Everybody was scared.”
Pignato ran downstairs from the restaurant’s rooftop deck, gave a customer her apron, phone and personal belongings and jumped from the Main Street Pier into the water.
“Unfortunately she landed on the sandbar, and from that impact she fractured her lower back in three places, and broke her right heel and top of her foot,” wrote Tayler Koop, the organizer of a GoFundMe campaign created for Pignato.
Pignato pushed through the pain and continued swimming toward the boy, but made her way back to the shore when she saw a man reach the child before her.
“She swam towards shore, felt she couldn't stand and had to be dragged out of the water herself,” Koop wrote.
The child was safely brought out of the water and Pignato was rushed to a local hospital, where she underwent surgery to her foot, WESH 2 News reported.
“I know what it's like not to have my family," Pignato said to the station as she fought back tears, speaking of the boy’s mother. “I did not want her to go through that. I'm just happy and grateful.”
Koop wrote Pignato is on bed rest and will be unable to return to work for at least two months. Since she lives in a third-story apartment that has stair access only, she will be homebound during her recovery, Koop wrote.
The GoFundMe page created by Koop called for donations to help offset the medical costs Pignato, who does not have insurance, will face.
By Tuesday, the page had raised $19,695 of its $75,000 goal.
“She has an amazing support system and is overwhelmingly appreciative of everyone who has been, and will be there for her,” Koop wrote. “Thank you infinitely.”