County resident survives snake bite

Published 10:59 pm Monday, June 15, 2009

Leon Donaldson was saddling his horse late Sunday afternoon, and his wife, Elaine, was searching for the place the mama cat had moved her kittens. And, had it not been for the continuous barking of their dog, there would have been nothing unusual about the hot, summer Pike County day.

“The dog just wouldn’t hush, and the horse was acting up, but I just thought that was because it hadn’t been ridden in a while,” said Leon Donaldson.

All the while, Elaine Donaldson was making her way around the back yard looking for the kittens.

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“I was looking down at the ground, and I didn’t see anything but I stepped on something,” Elaine said. “When I moved my foot to see what it was, some hit my leg. That’s when I saw the snake coiled up. I yelled but I didn’t see any blood, and it didn’t really hurt. Leon came running but I told him that I wasn’t sure it bit me.”

But in a matter of minutes, Elaine said her foot began to throb and swell.

Her son got her in the car and they rushed from their home near Center Ridge church about 15 miles out on Highway 87 to meet the rescue unit at Gateway.

“Leon shot the snake and put it in a sack and came behind us to the hospital,” Elaine said. “I was scared to death, and I’ve never been so proud to see an ambulance in my life. I knew then that I had help. I had panicked, and what they did on the ambulance was start an IV and try to keep me calm.

“When I got to the emergency room, they were able to identify the snake as a cottonmouth moccasin so they knew exactly what kind of anti-venom to give me. My foot swelled and hurt so bad but the doctor said I was lucky because only fang really got me. I might have broken one of the fangs when I stepped on the snake or maybe the other fang just grazed my foot.”

Leon said the snake was about three feet long and as big around as a quarter.

“But a little snake can have as much venom as a big one,” he said.

The snake bite occurred about 6:10 p.m. Sunday. Elaine was treated in the emergency room and kept in intensive care through Monday. She hopes to go home today.

Leon said the moccasin was the only snake that he has seen on their property in the six years they have lived there.

“The other one was a black snake,” he said. “We don’t live near water or anything and the yard is clean — not anywhere that you would think there might be snakes.”

Elaine said some leaves had fallen in the area where the snake was coiled, and it blended in with the leaves so she didn’t even see it.

“People need to be very careful because snakes could be anywhere,” she said.

“They aren’t just in the high grass or bushes. They could be in your flowerbeds or just out in the open like the one that bit me. From now on, everything will look like a snake to me.

“I know that I was lucky, and the doctor said that we did the right thing to get to the hospital as fast as we could.”

The Donaldsons were complimentary of the care that Elaine received at Troy Regional Medical Center.