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. 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.
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.
Wolford 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. 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. Wolford was a pastor and often handled his pet snake during church services. Wolford's father, Mack Wolford, died in 1983 under similar circumstances.
Westbrook was bitten just above the right elbow while handling a copperhead; he had been attempting to determine the snake's sex. 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." Westbrook was pronounced dead on arrival at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The cause of death was determined to be "anaphylactic shock as a result of the snake bite."
Price was bitten above the right ankle while wading across a stream near Cuyamaca Reservoir in Cuyamaca, California. Price had been taking part in a study of steelhead trout that was funded by a state Department of Fish and Game grant. 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." Price was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center, but later died.
Hernandez-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.
Guidry, 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.
Bitten 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.
Bitten 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".
Derek Lema, 2, male
September 16, 2000
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Bitten in the thigh by rattlesnake while helping his dad Victor Lema in their Lakewood, Florida backyard.
Wolford was bitten on the arm by a timber rattlesnake during religious services at the Lord Jesus Temple in Mile Branch, near Iaeger, West Virginia. 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. Wolford's son, Mark Wolford, died in 2012 under similar circumstances.
Reverend Holbrook was bitten while handling a rattlesnake during religious services in Oceana, West Virginia. Holbrook reportedly refused medical assistance because his religion did not permit it.
Ball was presumably bitten by a snake, possibly a Massasauga, while traveling alone through Bergen-Byron Swamp on a "picture-taking expedition". A five-day police search recovered Ball's body from a small clearing "near Warboys Road, on the swamp's northern perimeter." An autopsy report listed snakebite as the presumptive cause of death.
Ross 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.