Boutwell escapes snake ‘wrap’

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A warm winter and a wet spring send snakes looking for dry ground.

And what better place than the warm dryness of a riding lawn mower.

Nobody knows that better than Marsha Boutwell of the Center Ridge community.

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Boutwell was in the early minutes of mowing her lawn last Monday when she looked down to see a snake wrapped around her leg. From that moment on, Boutwell’s memory went blank.

“What I remember is putting oil in the mower and then making about three rounds in the yard,” she said. “I looked down and saw the snake wrapped round my right leg.  After that, the next thing I remember is being in the emergency room at Troy Regional.”

Mowing grass is a summer ritual for Boutwell. It’s a necessary chore but it’s also somewhat of a pleasure.

Most often when Boutwell is on her riding mower, so is her neighbor and sister-in-law, Joyce Boutwell. And so it was on the afternoon of the “snake incident.”

“I had on jeans and sensible shoes and maybe that’s why the snake wrapped around my leg and I didn’t notice,” she said. “Or maybe it was the vibration of the motor. And, maybe, that’s what prevented the snake from biting me.”

Boutwell’s neighbor said when she came driving the mower toward her house she had a strange look on her face.

“Joyce said I told her that I had a snake around my leg and to get help,” Boutwell said.

“She ran to call 911 and, when she got back, I told her, in a matter-of-fact way, the snake fell off and I ran over it. ‘I killed it’ I told her,’” Boutwell said. “I’m told that I proceeded to drive the lawn mower around the yard in circles until the rescue unit arrived. The paramedics determined I was in shock and took me to the emergency room.”

Boutwell said she remembers absolutely nothing that happened after she first put her eyes on the snake. She vaguely remembers being in the ER.

“I have blood pressure problems anyway and my blood pressure was so high they kept me in the hospital overnight,” she said. “The snake was a copperhead and, if it had bitten me ….”

Boutwell said the vibration of the mower and the noise are thought to have distracted the snake and that’s probably why it fell off the riding mower.

“I don’t remember the snake falling off. I don’t remember running over it. I don’t remember the paramedics coming or going to the hospital. I don’t remember anything except seeing the snake wrapped around my leg,” she said.

Boutwell is sharing her story in an effort to caution people that snakes are crawling and they are looking for dry places and places to sun.

“I want to caution everybody to be on the lookout for snakes,” she said. “Don’t think they are just in the weeds or bushes. They can be on your patio, in your garage, just anywhere. But what I want to say again and again is to look for snakes in places you probably wouldn’t expect to find them – on golf carts, mules, ATVs, riding lawn mowers and children’s riding toys. Snakes are crawling and you can’t be too careful, they can be anywhere that’s dry.”

Boutwell acknowledges that snakes can be helpful but, as far as she is concerned, there’s only one good snake and that’s a dead snake.

“Either way, be alert and be safe,” she said.