A former Minnesota woman is suffering from lacerations, a broken jaw, broken bones, cracked vertebrae, and severe nerve damage after a boat she was riding in struck a whale off the coast of California. 

48-year-old Melissa Thomas was on a scuba diving trip with three friends off the California coast on Sept. 30th. After pausing briefly to watch a pod of humpback whales pass by, the four divers went on their way in the 24-foot boat. Melissa was at the front of the boat looking out for more whales when they collided with one.

The crash, reported by WCCO, with a 30-ton humpback sent Thomas smashing headfirst into the boat’s windshield. She was then thrown into the railing of the boat, causing the majority of her injuries. Melissa was rushed to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, California.

Now Melissa is looking to regain the full function of her left arm, and will likely have to undergo months of intense physical therapy. There is a GoFundMe account set up to help her with her medical bills.

Whale experts say the California coast is seeing many more whales this year due to larger schools of anchovies.

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