A Texas snake handler, Eugene De Leon Senior, has died after being bitten by a rattlesnake at a festival.
De Leon was handling the snake at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Freer on April 30 when he was bitten on the shoulder in front of a crowd of people, KIII-TV reported.
The snake handler, who had worked with snakes for more than 20 years, was taken to hospital by helicopter where he battled his injuries for eight hours before he died, the radio station said.
news week has contacted the Freer Police Department for comment.
Held in Freer, the Rattlesnake Roundup is the area’s largest festival and includes snake shows, feedings and carnival activities revolving around the venomous snake.
Rattlesnakes have extremely potent venom that is full of hemotoxins. However, fatalities are rare, as they generally only bite when provoked. There is also a wide distribution of antivenom throughout the state. If a bite is not treated immediately, it only takes a few seconds for the venom to travel into the bloodstream. The poison damages tissues and destroys blood cells, causing internal bleeding. Those bitten usually need medical attention within 30 minutes.
Antivenom is not kept on site at the Rattlesnake Roundup festival, as it must be administered by hospital staff, according to KIII-TV.
De Leon’s sister, Monica Dimas, posted a tribute to her brother on Facebook on May 1.
“My brother earned his wings today doing what he loved to do,” she wrote. “I had a passion for handling snakes at the Rattlesnake Rodeo in Freer…after many years of handling this stuff, today was not your day with them…Rest in peace bro…”
Dimas also posted a fundraiser on his Facebook page, where he’s raising money for De Leon’s funeral because “it happened so suddenly.”
De Leon was a member of the local Freer volunteer fire department and worked to eliminate poisonous snakes that slithered into people’s homes.
The Freer Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that De Leon was “always ready to help” his community.
“We will never forget his excitement during Roundup time, from doing interviews with TV stations to appearing on televised Wildlife shows, he did it all,” the statement said. “You showed us all following our passion and giving back to our community. May you rest in peace, Eugene.
A congressional candidate, Sandra Whitten, also raised a tribute to De Leon on Facebook. She said De León was “very well liked” by those who knew him.
“My family and I enjoyed watching him handle these deadly snakes with ease, almost as if he was just dancing with them. He had a smile on his face and clearly joy in his heart,” he wrote.
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Texas Snake Handler Eugene De Leon Sr. Dies Bitten by Rattlesnake – Home
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