Woman says catfish fell from sky, striking her near Art Museum

Sometimes you eat the catfish, and sometimes the catfish falls from the sky and smacks you in the face.

Lisa Lobree learned that lesson Labor Day morning when she was walking to meet her CoreFitness class near the Art Museum, heard a "rustling" in the trees, and then -.

"Suddenly I was slammed by something," Lobree recalled Friday. "I was like, 'What?!' I was freaking out."

The injuries: Minor. The trauma: Immeasurable. The theory: A bird was flying with the fish in its mouth and accidentally dropped it. On her face.

Lobree immediately buckled to the ground, screaming - the only logical reaction when one is assaulted by a flying fish with whiskers. Her friend started screaming something about a fish. People were asking if she was OK. There may have been some crying involved.

"It definitely hurt me and I didn't know what happened," Lobree said.

At first, she thought there were fish guts on her face, but it turned out to be a cut near her eye. Later, her face started swelling.

Witnesses reported seeing a bird flying away - a vulture or hawk or eagle, maybe. The catfish was about 16 inches long, perhaps five pounds.

Gina Mancuso, co-owner of CoreFitness, said she had just started instructing the 9 a.m. boot camp class when one of Lobree's friends came running over.

"I said, 'What's happening?' She said, 'Lisa's been hit by a fish,' " Mancuso recalled. "I handed her my phone. Then I made a couple jokes to the rest of the class."

Based on the height of the trees above, Lobree said, the fish probably fell at least 50 feet, striking branches along the way.

"It's a crazy, crazy thing," she said.

Lobree walked to her Fairmount home and took a long shower. Estimated time: 30 minutes.

"I smelled really bad. I was so disgusted," she said. "I was a little bit shocked, actually."

That afternoon, Lobree developed a 101-degree fever, which she said is rare for her. It might have been a coincidence, but she was worried about a possible infection. A pediatrician neighbor said that was unlikely.

Lobree called her doctor as a precaution and got the answering service. They thought it was a prank call - a fish story, you might say.

"I told them a fish fell out of the sky," Lobree said. "She asked if it was from an airplane."

Later, her doctor called and prescribed antibiotics, but the fever went away on its own. It might have just been from the trauma, the doctor suggested.

Lobree still had a cut under her eye Friday.

"People are still asking me about the cut on my face," she said. "They say, 'What happened to you?' And it's like, 'Here we go again.' "

Lobree, who said she is not particularly prone to this kind of bad luck, is thankful that she only sustained minor injuries.

"It could have been so much worse," she said. "What if it hit a child? It was a not a fun experience, but there are so many worse things that could've happened. It's probably one of the strangest things that have happened to me in my life."

Growing up in Colorado, Lobree said, she used to go fishing, and she still "loves to fish." With a rod and a reel. Not her face.

Before Monday, she had never caught a catfish.

"It was the first catfish that my face caught," she said.

benderw@phillynews.com

215-854-5255 @wbender99