Rattlesnake plunges from tree into kayak, then starts attacking the kayaker, SC fire chief says

A South Carolina man thought he was going to enjoy a day outdoors with friends Sunday, but things took a frightening turn.

The man, who was kayaking, was bitten multiple times by a rattlesnake and had to be rushed to an area hospital, according to Colleton County Fire Chief Barry McRoy.

The incident occurred when the 28-year-old Anderson man and friends were kayaking on the Edisto River.

The rattlesnake fell out of a tree and bit the man on his hand, twice, McRoy said.

McRoy said he did not know how long it took the kayakers to reach a boat landing at the intersection of SC-61 and US-15, but he said Colleton County Fire and Rescue received a call about the bite at 5:20, and it took them approximately 12 minutes to pick up the Anderson man.

The man was rushed to Colleton Medical Center, which had antivenin waiting in the emergency room, according to McRoy.

During the ambulance ride, the man "was in bad shape, and greatly deteriorated," McCroy said, adding that the man's ailments included lots of swelling and airway problems.

The man was listed in critical condition, abcnews4.com reported.

While McRoy praised the work done in the ER, he said the man was flown by helicopter to MUSC Monday morning, saying typically that is not a good sign.

The rattlesnake was captured by friends of the man on the kayaking trip, live5news.com reported.

McRoy said the rattlesnake wasn't very big, estimating it was between 18 inches and 2-feet long.

This was the first reported rattlesnake bite in the county this year, McRoy said. He said there have been a number of copperhead snake bites reported, but typically in those cases the patients have been treated and released from hospitals.

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In 2016, Wayne Grooms, a West Columbia naturalist, died after a snake bit him at Santee National Wildlife Refuge. Grooms’ death stunned many people in South Carolina because fatal snakebites are so rare. No more than a half dozen people die nationally each year from snakebites.