A man has died after being attacked by a snake in front of horrified onlookers at a celebratory event at an Australian school.
The 69-year-old, whose name has not yet been made public, was in the middle of a heroic act when he was bitten at Koumala State School’s 100th anniversary party in central Queensland.
He’d spotted the reptile curled around his friend’s ankle and had just successfully removed it when it struck. He was bitten multiple times on the arm and went into cardiac arrest. Despite the desperate attempts of paramedics and other attendees to revive him, he died at the scene.
Medics are still uncertain about the exact species of the snake, but it’s been suggested that the symptoms he displayed are indicative of a bite from a brown snake.
Brown snakes possess a deadly venom that can quickly lead to paralysis, severe bleeding, kidney damage, muscle weakness, neurological symptoms, and cardiac effects.
The man’s friend, also in his 60s, also sustained bites and was taken to Mackay Base Hospital in a stable condition and has since returned home.
In the wake of the tragedy, the snakebite victim’s daughter – who witnessed her father’s death – posted about it on social media. “He removed the snake. He wasn’t bitten ‘trying’ to remove it (as first reported),” she wrote.
“He was bitten as he was taking the snake away. I’m his daughter, and I was there.” One friend wrote: “Beautiful gentleman and a friend to all who ever had the pleasure to know him. Sincerest condolences to his beautiful wife and family.”
Local MP Stephen Andrew told the Courier Mail: “This was a complete accident that could never have been predicted or prevented. Everyone thought they were going to celebrate a great event, this was completely unexpected.”
Mackay Regional Council Deputy Mayor Karen May added: “To end the celebrations of the centenary of the school in that way is such a tragedy. It’s been a great shock to the community.”
Queensland Ambulance Deputy Commissioner Dr Claire Bertenshaw said it was human nature that caused the victim to save his friend, sacrificing his own life in the process.
“The advice would be to try to stay away from the snake, give them as much room as you can, but obviously, this man was entangled with the snake, and his friend became the hero and tried to save him,” she told the Today Show.
“You would try and find something long to get the snake off with, a big twig, try and shake your leg free, try to get away from the snake without getting other people involved. But, you know, you are always going to jump into action. Adrenaline takes over and you try and save who you are with.”
The tragedy comes after a warmer than average winter which experts say could lead to an increase in dangerous snakes lurking in Australian homes.
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This article by Sophie Bateman was first published by The Mirror on 11 September 2023. Lead Image: The brown snake has a deadly venom that can kill in minutes (stock image) (Image: Getty Images/RooM RF).