California Teen Steps On Rattlesnake Nest While Searching For Cell Signal, Survives

A 16-year-old California girl, Vera Oliphant, was visiting her uncle in an area with spotty cell phone service. Like most teens would, she went in search of a signal. Things took a turn for the worst however when the preoccupied teen felt extreme pain in her leg, and looked down to see a mother rattlesnake and five youths biting into her.

The Chicago Tribune reports the incident occurred in a rural region outside of San Diego, California.

“I was trying to find a signal to call my mom and text my boyfriend,” Oliphant said. “I didn’t see them until I already stepped on their nest and I felt them biting me.”

According to Reuters, the teen noticed her vision start to fade right away. On a scale of 1-10, she described the pain she felt as a 45. He uncle rushed her to medical attention and she would go on to spend four days in intensive care at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Doctors gave her 24 vials of antivenom to neutralize the venom.

Snake bites are not typically fatal, but several people a year do die of bites from rattlesnakes and other snakes in the United States. According to the California Department of Fish and Game, the rattlesnake is the only native venomous snake in California. Species include the northern Pacific rattlesnake, the Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Speckled rattlesnake, Red Diamond rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Great Basin rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake.


Oliphant was searching for a cell phone signal when the bites occurred and she has a message for others who may be preoccupied with their phones instead of watching their step.

“Be careful where you step,” she said. “If you don’t need to, just wait until you are somewhere that you can call people.”

According to the Department of Fish and Game, a rattlesnake may be encountered, “just about anywhere in California.”