List of fatal snake bites in the United States

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This is a list of persons who received a fatal snake bite in the United States by decade in reverse chronological order. The United States has about 20 species of venomous snakes which include 16 species of rattlesnakes, 2 species of coral snakes, one species of cottonmouth (or water moccasin), and one species of copperhead. At least one type of venomous snake is found in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about 5 of those people die.[1] Most fatal bites are attributed to the eastern and western diamondback rattlesnake. Copperheads account for more cases of venomous snake bite than any other North American species; however, their venom is the least toxic so their bite is seldom fatal.[2]

Venomous snakes are distributed unevenly throughout the United States — the vast majority of snake bites occur in warm weather states. States like Florida and Texas have a wide variety and large population of venomous snakes. Bites from venomous snakes are extremely rare in the states near the Canadian border. Maine, for example, has only one species (Crotalus horridus) and it is rarely seen only in the southern part of the state.


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Jamie Coots, maleFeb 15, 2014rattlesnakeCoots was bitten on the right hand during a service at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky. After the bite, Coots dropped the snakes, but then picked them back up and continued the ceremony. Later, he was driven to his home. When paramedics arrived, his relatives refused medical treatment for him, saying it was inconsistent with his religion. He died at home.
Mark Randall Wolford, 44, maleMay 28, 2012Timber RattlesnakeWolford was bitten on the thigh while handling a timber rattlesnake as part of an outdoor religious service at Panther State Forest in McDowell County, West Virginia.[3] Wolford did not initially seek medical treatment for his injury, but was taken to Bluefield Regional Medical Center when his condition began to deteriorate some eight hours later.[3] Wolford was a pastor and often handled his pet snake during church services.[3] Wolford's father, Mack Wolford, died in 1983 under similar circumstances.[4]
Wade Westbrook, 26, maleJanuary 29, 2011CopperheadWestbrook was bitten just above the right elbow while handling a copperhead; he had been attempting to determine the snake's sex.[5] According to witnesses, Westbrook "tried to extract the venom with a tool after he was bitten, then he began coughing and vomiting before he collapsed."[6] Westbrook was pronounced dead on arrival at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[6] The cause of death was determined to be "anaphylactic shock as a result of the snake bite."[6]
William Price, 67, maleOctober 13, 2010rattlesnake, probably a Southern Pacific RattlesnakePrice was bitten above the right ankle while wading across a stream near Cuyamaca Reservoir in Cuyamaca, California.[7] Price had been taking part in a study of steelhead trout that was funded by a state Department of Fish and Game grant.[7] According to witnesses, Price "stopped breathing within minutes" of being bitten. The bite marks on his foot were reportedly "an inch and a half across."[7] Price was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center, but later died.


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Richard Rupert, 68, maleOctober 10, 2009rattlesnakeHunting with grandson in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.[8]
Jackie Ledwell, 63, femaleOctober, 2007Mojave RattlesnakeBitten while taking a walk in Paulden, Arizona.[9]
Inocenio Hernandez-Hernandez, 29, maleJune 10, 2006Eastern Coral SnakeHernandez-Hernandez became the first person to die in the United States from a fatal coral snake bite since 1967. He and Jesus Moreida, both of Bonita Springs, Florida, were bitten by a coral snake they tried to kill.[10]
Former police officer from Madison County, Texas2006Copperhead[11]
Joe Guidry, 54, maleOctober 2005Eastern Diamondback RattlesnakeGuidry, the Putnam County, Florida fire marshall, went to help a neighbor who had spotted a rattlesnake while mowing grass. He shot at the snake; it went under a shed and Guidry was bitten when he reached for it.
Margaret Wilson White, 54, femaleJuly 2005rattlesnakeHays County, Texas near Wimberley along Ranch Road 12, about a quarter mile west of County Road 213.[12][13]
Trent Leprette, 31, maleJune 2004CopperheadBitten on each hand while swimming in Saugahatchee Creek near Lochapoka, Alabama. Leprette was admitted to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika; he developed complications and died after several days of treatment.[14]
Professor Chavez, 34, maleMay 2003rattlesnakeKilled in Riverside County, California.
Pat Hughes, 45, maleAugust 2002rattlesnakeBitten on finger by a small snake in his own garage, admitted to Sierra Vista Regional Health Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona and treated with antivenom but died of "complications associated with the bite".[15]
Derek Lema, 2, maleSeptember 16, 2000Eastern Diamondback RattlesnakeBitten in the thigh by rattlesnake while helping his dad Victor Lema in their Lakewood, Florida backyard.


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Anita Finch, 33, femaleReported December 17, 1999Gaboon Viper or Hog-nosed Sand ViperBitten by either of these snakes she kept as pets in her Van Nuys, California home.[16]


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Adult male1980srattlesnakeA single fatal rattlesnake bite was reported in Utah during this decade.
Mack Ray Wolford, 39, maleAugust 28, 1983Timber RattlesnakeWolford was bitten on the arm by a timber rattlesnake during religious services at the Lord Jesus Temple in Mile Branch, near Iaeger, West Virginia.[4] Wolford did not initially seek medical treatment. An ambulance was summoned eight hours after Wolford had been bitten, but he died during transport to Stevens Clinic in Welch, West Virginia.[4] Wolford's son, Mark Wolford, died in 2012 under similar circumstances.[3]
John Holbrook, 38, maleAugust 1982rattlesnakeReverend Holbrook was bitten while handling a rattlesnake during religious services in Oceana, West Virginia.[4][17] Holbrook reportedly refused medical assistance because his religion did not permit it.[4][17]


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Gordon D. Ball, 34, maleAugust 5, 1973rattlesnakeBall was presumably bitten by a snake, possibly a Massasauga, while traveling alone through Bergen-Byron Swamp on a "picture-taking expedition".[18] A five-day police search recovered Ball's body from a small clearing "near Warboys Road, on the swamp's northern perimeter."[18] An autopsy report listed snakebite as the presumptive cause of death.[18]


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
George Went Hensley, 74, maleJuly 25, 1955unknownDied from a bite sustained while handling snakes during a religious service in Virginia.


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Jerry Frier, 7, maleJune 22, 1943rattlesnakeDied from rattlesnake bite in Lafayette County, Florida.
Mrs. Floyd Butterbaugh, 22, FemaleJuly 18, 1947timber rattlerWas bitten by a timber rattler at her home on Piney Creek, 12 miles east of Chillicothe, Ohio near the Tar Hollow State Forest. Mrs. Butterbaugh was picking beans in her garden when she was bitten. She died the next day. This is the last known fatality from a wild snake bite in the State of Ohio. [19]



Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Rebecca Nimmons, 19, femaleJuly 1928rattlesnakeKilled by a rattlesnake in Pickens County, South Carolina.
Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Jane Lancaster, 66, femaleAugust 21, 1921probably a Timber RattlesnakeRoss County, Ohio The bite occurred in Franklin Township at Snake Hollow, near the present day Scioto Trails State Forest, southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio. The article in the Chillicothe Gazette explains that it could not be confirmed if the bite Mrs. Lancaster suffered was from a copperhead or rattlesnake. Given the severity of the wounds, it was likely a timber rattlesnake that bit her.[20]


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Helen Moomey, 4, female1915rattlesnakeDied from a rattlesnake bite she received while playing with friends near her house in Billings County, North Dakota.
two Wilson childrenJune 1913Prairie RattlesnakeBitten and died while family was sleeping on the North Dakota prairie.


Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Mary Bull, 12, femaleJuly 9, 1907rattlesnakeDied from a rattlesnake bite in Shenandoah County, Virginia.
Frank Benham, 2, maleSeptember 25, 1903prairie rattlesnakeDied from rattlesnake bite in Adams County, Colorado, 17 miles north of Deer Trail.
Edward Comstock, 39, maleSeptember 25, 1900rattlesnakeDied as result of a bite from a rattlesnake during a snake handling exhibition on Water Street in Chillicothe, Ohio. Newspaper article: Edward Comstock, manager of a snake show, was bitten by a rattlesnake at Chilll- cothe, O., last week and died, in terrible agony. His hand and arm swelled to an enormous size. Every known antidote was tried without avail. He was changing the snakes and put bis hand into a box, when the rattler bit him. He had handled snakes for years.[21]

Before 1900[edit]

Name, age, genderDateSpeciesLocation, comments
Rebecca O. Andrews, approximately 28, femalec. 1890rattlesnakeDied from rattlesnake bite in Kansas.
James Ananias Brannon, 2, maleJuly 1882rattlesnakeDied from a rattlesnake bite received while lying on a blanket in Texas.
George Sides, 6, maleMay 30, 1873rattlesnakeDied in Texas of a rattlesnake bite.
Frederick Louis Niemann, male1873rattlesnakeDied in Saline County, Kansas, from a rattlesnake bite.
William A. Perrin, male1859rattlesnakeKilled by a rattlesnake at Stribling Springs in Augusta County, Virginia.
Maggie Lee, femaleOctober 24, 1854rattlesnakeShe was the first child to die of a snakebite in Parker County, Texas.
H. M. Pettigrew, 31, male1841rattlesnakeHe died from a rattlesnake bite while clearing land in Fannin County, Texas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Venomous Snakes". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Copperhead snake page". Archived from the original on 2000-09-16. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Snake-handling W.Va. preacher dies after suffering bite during outdoor service". The Washington Post. The Associated Press. May 31, 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Web Extra: 1983 Daily Telegraph story detailing the death of Wolford's father, also from a snake bite". Bluefield Daily Telegraph. August 30, 1983. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Ghianni, Tim (January 31, 2011). "Tennessee man dies from poisonous copperhead snake bite". Reuters. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Nicholson, Ken (January 31, 2011). "Updated: Official cause of death determined in snake bite case". Chattanooga, Tennessee: WRCB. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Repard, Pauline (October 15, 2010). "La Jolla man dies from rattlesnake bite". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Boy couldn't save snakebit grandpa". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Snakebite Deaths Still Rare but are Mounting". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Southeastern Outdoors – Fatal Coral Snake Bites". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "The copperhead snake". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "July 29, 2005 - Search for missing woman in Hays County". 
  13. ^ "SAN MARCOS DAILY RECORD Wimberley Woman Missing". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Fatal Snake Bite". June 23, 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Snake bite kills Sierra Vista man". August 20, 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Zoo volunteer killed by deadly snake bite". Sacramento Bee. December 17, 1999. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Mathews, Garret (April 3, 1983). "'Praise-the-Lord-and-pass-the-snake' service is a trip, if you can handle it". The Chicago Tribune. p. J3. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c Graczyk, Mark (February 5, 2012). "Hidden History: Snake bite kills man in Bergen swamp, 1973". The Daily News Online (Batavia, New York). Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "First Death from Snake Bite in Ross County Since Records Of Mortality Has Been Kept in This County". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  21. ^
General references

External links[edit]