Eugene De Leon Senior, a snake handler from Texas, died during a festival after being bitten by a rattlesnake.
De Leon was a bit on the shoulder in front of a multitude of people while handling the snake at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Freer on April 30, according to KIII-TV.
According to the radio station, the snake handler, who had worked with snakes for over 20 years, was flown to the hospital by helicopter and fought his injuries for eight hours before succumbing to his injuries.
The Rattlesnake Roundup, hosted in Freer, is the area’s major celebration, with snake shows, feedings, and carnival games centered on the deadly reptile.
Rattlesnakes’ venom is packed with hemotoxins and is incredibly strong. Fatalities are uncommon, as they typically bite only when provoked. Antivenom is widely available throughout the state as well. It only takes seconds for the venom to enter the bloodstream if a bite is not treated right after. Internal hemorrhage is caused by the venom, which damages tissue and destroys blood cells. Those who have been bitten should seek medical help as soon as possible.
According to KIII-TV, antivenom isn’t carried on-site at the Rattlesnake Roundup festival since it needs to be administered by hospital staff.
On May 1, Monica Dimas, De Leon’s sister, posted a Facebook tribute to her brother.
She wrote, “My brother earned his wings today doing what he loved.” “At the rattlesnake roundup in Freer, he had a penchant for snake handling…after many years of managing these creatures, this was not your day. My brother, may you rest in peace.”
Dimas has also set up a fundraiser on her Facebook page to raise funds for De Leon’s funeral because “it came so quickly.”
De Leon was a volunteer firefighter with the Freer Volunteer Fire Department, where he helped to remove deadly snakes from people’s homes.
De Leon was “always eager to help” his community, according to the Freer Chamber of Commerce in a statement.
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“We will never forget his excitement during Roundup season, from doing interviews with news stations to appearing on televised wildlife shows,” the statement stated. “You demonstrated to us all the importance of following our dreams and giving back to our communities. Eugene, I hope you find peace.”
On Facebook, Sandra Whitten, a congressional candidate, paid tribute to De Leon. Those who knew De Leon, she remarked, were “much liked.”
“My family and I enjoy watching him effortlessly manage these dangerous snakes, almost as if he were dancing with them. He wore a happy expression on his face and his heart was definitely full of delight “she penned an essay