A day out camping Tuesday turned deadly when a man died after bites from a copperhead at a Missouri state park. And according to authorities, the man’s 11-year-old son witnessed his father being bitten repeatedly by the poisonous snake, citing a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
St. Charles resident, Timothy Levins, 52, and his family were visiting Sam A. Baker State Park when the tragedy occurred. Levins and his son ventured outside their cabin and observed a copperhead snake measuring some 18-20 inches long. Apparently, the boy’s father was attempting a teaching moment about the species of snake when the attack took place.
Without warning, the snake bit the man several times in succession. KFVS12 wrote that the man died after suffering approximately two or three copperhead snake bites to his hand. Three minutes elapsed before he retreated inside the cabin to wash the area where the fangs punctured his skin.
Moments later, Levins made his way to a sofa where he begin shaking violently before losing consciousness, according to his son and 13-year-old daughter. Paramedics arrived about 15 minutes later and transported the man to a nearby hospital. Sadly, the man died a short time later from the copperhead attack.
Police report the primary cause of death was not from the copperhead’s venomous bite; fatalities are usually rare from this species in state parks. Instead, it appears the St. Charles man passed away from an allergic reaction, specifically anaphylactic shock.
Sara Turner with the Missouri Department of Conservation said this about the fatal bite:
Most of the time when people die from a copperhead bite, which is usually what they say, it’s usually not from the actual bite, it’s because they had a previous medical condition.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, “anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as a peanut or the venom from a bee sting.” Essentially, a person’s blood pressure drops and a sufferer’s airways narrow, making breathing difficult.
The Missouri Department of Conservation says that, on average, 100 people suffer bites from snakes in the state annually. Of those, about 25 percent are “dry bites,” in which no venom is injected. In fact, Tuesday’s fatality is only the third one ever recorded in the state: the first occurred four decades ago and the previous one was in 2012.
Officials warn park goers to be vigilant, watch their surroundings carefully, and give the animals their space. Many people are tempted to pet, feed or get too close to wild animals, oftentimes at a cost.
Citing a previous Inquisitr report, a moose attack in May led to two women receiving severe injuries. In that incident, two hikers and a dog were walking along a trail when they startled a grazing moose. And instead of walking away, like park rangers suggest, they made eye contact with the animal, which likely provoked the attack. Luckily, both women survived.
Similar to the incident in which the man died from a series of copperhead snake bites, the moose, which normally keeps its distance from humans, was likely attacking out of fear.
Levins leaves behind a wife and three children.
Image via: Wikimedia Commons