List of fatal snake bites in the United States

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This is a list of some people who received a fatal snake bite in the United States by decade in reverse chronological order. There is no evidence it is a comprehensive list.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) kills the most people in the US, with the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) ranking second.[1] However, some authorities believe the western diamondback is responsible for the most deaths.[2][3]

Snake species[edit]

The United States has about 20 species of venomous snakes, which include 16 species of rattlesnakes, two 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.[4]

It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about five of those people die.[5] 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.[6]

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 Canada–US border. Maine, for example, has only one species (timber rattlesnake); they are rarely seen, and then only in the southern part of the state, but the species is likely extinct in Maine, with the last sighting in 1901.[7]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Barry Lester, 57, male April 29, 2018 Rattlesnake Osage County, Oklahoma, Lester was driving down a road when he spotted the rattlesnake, he tried to move it to safety but ended up being bit on both hands, Lester collapsed shortly after and was pronounced dead.[citation needed]
Daniel Hohs, 31, male October 7, 2017 Rattlesnake Hohs was bitten on the ankle while hiking near Golden, Colorado.[8]
Wayne Grooms, 71, male June 12, 2016 Rattlesnake (likely timber rattlesnake) Grooms was in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina when a rattlesnake bit his lower left leg.[9] He collapsed and died within 15 minutes. He may have had an undisclosed condition which contributed to the severity of his reaction to the bite.[10] Timber rattlesnakes are the most common in this refuge, but eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are adaptable, could potentially be found in this refuge, and are more likely to cause serious bites than timbers, due to their disposition and venomous potential.[11]
David Brock, 60, male July 28, 2015 Unknown (almost certainly timber rattlesnake) Brock was bitten during a religious service at a Pentecostal Church in Jenson, Kentucky. He refused treatment and died in his brother's home.[12]
Russell E. Davis, 39, male July 19, 2015 Timber rattlesnake Davis was sitting by a fire at his family's camp in Elk County, Pennsylvania when he was bitten by a rattlesnake. He was taken to a hospital and from there airlifted to a Pittsburgh-area hospital. While in the helicopter, Davis suffered a cardiac arrest and was subsequently pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. The cause of death was an anaphylactic reaction from the snake's venom. No autopsy was performed and the death was ruled accidental.[13]
Grant Thompson, 18, male July 14, 2015 Monocled cobra Thompson was found unresponsive in his car in a Lowe's store parking lot in North Austin, Texas. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A monocled cobra that he was known to own was missing and was later found dead nearby, having been run over by a car [14] An autopsy was performed and Thompson's death was ruled a suicide.[15]
Gilbert De Leon, 37, male May 23, 2015 Cottonmouth De Leon was bitten on each leg while wading in the James River near Nixa, Missouri. After the bite, he did not seek medical attention and died the next day.[16]
David Giles, 59, male May 20, 2015 Unknown, but likely rattlesnake Giles, of Watkinsville, Georgia, was bitten while he was alone in Arnoldsville, Georgia. He normally carried a snakebite kit, but did not have it with him this time. He drove to a nearby house to seek help, and collapsed. A timber rattlesnake would have been the normal suspect, but since he was weakened by Lyme disease it could have been a pygmy, cottonmouth, or copperhead.[17]
Timothy Levins, 52, male July 8, 2014 Copperhead While camping at Sam A. Baker State Park in Missouri, Levins walked outside, saw a snake, and brought it to his son's attention. When he picked it up, the snake bit him. Levins walked back into the cabin, washed his hand at the kitchen sink and sat down on the couch. When he became sick, someone from a neighboring cabin came over to help and performed CPR. Levins was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.[18]
Brayden Bullard, 4, male June 20, 2014 Timber rattlesnake Bitten while planting watermelons in his backyard in Bryceville, Florida.[19] He was rushed to the hospital, but died 2 weeks later[20]
Jamie Coots, 42, male Feb 15, 2014 Rattlesnake Coots 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.
Daniel Frank Mitchell, 53, male Sept. 20, 2013 Rattlesnake (probably eastern diamondback, but possibly timber) Salem, Alabama[21]
Ernest Burch, 80, male July 2, 2013[22] Timber rattlesnake Burch found the snake in his garage in Armuchee, Georgia. Not wanting to kill it, he tried moving it out with a broom but lost his balance, fell on top of the snake, and was bitten on his left arm. He was rushed to the hospital and received eight vials of antivenom, but died 30 hours later.[23]
Believed to be Jack Redmond, male, 70 October 2, 2012 Unknown He was likely killed by one of the 24 venomous snakes he kept in his home in Chesterfield, Virginia.[24]
Terry Brown, 50, male July 2012 Copperhead Brown died of a heart attack one day after he was bitten by a copperhead snake while camping on the Current River, Missouri. The coroner's office listed the cause of death as a heart attack, with the snake bite as a contributing factor. Witnesses told investigators that Brown had seen a snake in one of the tents and was trying to remove it when the snake bit him on the right thumb.[25]
Mark Randall Wolford, 44, male May 28, 2012 Timber rattlesnake 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.[26][27] 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.[26] Wolford was a pastor and often handled his pet snake during church services.[26] Wolford's father, Mack Wolford, died in 1983 under similar circumstances.[28]
Aleta Stacy, 56, female June 2011 presumably Black Mamba Found dead in her home in Putnam Co., NY. She illegally kept numerous venomous snakes in her home, one of which was a Black Mamba.[29] Some suspect that her death was a suicide.[30]
Mark Shaw, 47, male April 5, 2011 Rattlesnake (probably western diamondback, but possibly timber) Shaw was bitten by a rattlesnake he was trying to kill in Bastrop County, Texas.[31]
Wade Westbrook, 26, male January 29, 2011 Copperhead Westbrook was bitten just above the right elbow while handling a copperhead; he had been attempting to determine the snake's sex.[32] According to witnesses, he "tried to extract the venom with a tool after he was bitten, then he began coughing and vomiting before he collapsed."[33] Westbrook was pronounced dead on arrival at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[33] The cause of death was determined to be "anaphylactic shock as a result of the snake bite." Westbrook had been bitten previously by a Copperhead, which may have made him hypersensitive to snake venom.[33]
William Price, 67, male October 13, 2010 Rattlesnake, probably a Southern Pacific rattlesnake Price was bitten above the right ankle while wading across a stream near Cuyamaca Reservoir in Cuyamaca, California.[34] He had been taking part in a study of steelhead trout that was funded by a state Department of Fish and Game grant.[34] 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.[34] Price was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center, but later died.
Peyton Hood, 1, female Aug. 11, 2010 Western diamondback rattlesnake Accidentally stepped on baby Western Diamondback while climbing down ladder at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. The snake struck her main artery.[35] She was rushed to the hospital, but died within a few hours.[36]
George Yancy, 35, male May 9, 2010 Rattlesnake (probably western diamondback, but possibly timber) Yancy was bitten while pulling up his pants in Smithville, Texas.[31]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Richard Rupert, 68, male October 10, 2009 Timber rattlesnake Rupert was hunting with his grandson in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.[37]
Jackie Ledwell, 63, female October, 2007 Mojave rattlesnake Ledwell was bitten while taking a walk in Paulden, Arizona.[38]
Linda Long, 48, female November 5, 2006 Rattlesnake Long died after being bitten by a snake during a serpent-handling service at church.[39]
Inocenio Hernandez-Hernandez, 29, male June 10, 2006 Eastern coral snake 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.[40]
Former police officer from Madison County, Texas 2006 Copperhead [41]
Joe Guidry, 54, male October 2005 Eastern diamondback rattlesnake Guidry, the Putnam County, Florida fire marshal, 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.[42]
Margaret Wilson White, 54, female July 2005 Rattlesnake White was bitten in Hays County, Texas near Wimberley along Ranch Road 12, about a quarter mile west of County Road 213.[43][44][45]
Trent Leprette, 31, male June 2004 Copperhead Leprette was bitten on each hand while swimming in Saugahatchee Creek near Loachapoka, Alabama. He was admitted to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika; he developed complications and died after several days of treatment.[46]
Professor Chavez, 34, male May 2003 Rattlesnake Professor Chavez was killed in Riverside County, California.
Ross Cooke, 50, male May 2003 Southern Pacific rattlesnake Cooke was killed in Lyle Creek, San Bernardino County, California, having stepped on a snake he mistook for a log.[47]
Pat Hughes, 45, male August 2002 Rattlesnake Hughes was bitten on the finger by a small snake in his own garage. He was admitted to Sierra Vista Regional Health Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona and treated with antivenom but died of "complications associated with the bite".[48]
Derek Lema, 2, male September 16, 2000 Eastern diamondback rattlesnake Lema was bitten in the thigh by rattlesnake while helping his father Victor Lema in their Lakewood Ranch Florida backyard.[49]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Anita Finch, 33, female Reported December 17, 1999 Gaboon viper or hog-nosed sand viper Finch was bitten by either of these snakes she kept as pets in her Van Nuys, California home.[50]
Adult female 1995 Rattlesnake Kentucky[51]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Adult male 1980s Rattlesnake A single fatal rattlesnake bite was reported in Utah during this decade.
Curtis Davison, 22, male August 19, 1989 Eastern diamondback rattlesnake Davison was bitten on the top of his right hand as he transferred a six-foot rattlesnake from one cage to another at Silver Springs Nature Park near Ocala, Florida.[52]
Mack Ray Wolford, 39, male August 28, 1983 Timber rattlesnake 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.[28] Wolford did not initially seek medical treatment.[53] An ambulance was summoned eight hours after Wolford had been bitten, but he died during transport to Stevens Clinic in Welch, West Virginia.[28] Wolford's son, Mark Wolford, died in 2012 under similar circumstances.[26]
John Holbrook, 38, male August 1982 Rattlesnake Reverend Holbrook was bitten while handling a rattlesnake during religious services in Oceana, West Virginia.[28][54] Holbrook reportedly refused medical assistance because his religion did not permit it.[28][54]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Gordon D. Ball, 34, male August 5, 1973 Rattlesnake Ball was presumably bitten by a snake, possibly a massasauga, while traveling alone through Bergen-Byron Swamp on a "picture-taking expedition".[55] A five-day police search recovered Ball's body from a small clearing "near Warboys Road, on the swamp's northern perimeter."[55] An autopsy report listed snakebite as the presumptive cause of death.[55][56]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Karl P. Schmidt, 67, male September 26, 1957 Boomslang Schmidt, a renowned herpetologist, died in Chicago while documenting the effects of a venomous bite of a snake he was trying to identify. The snake was later identified as a juvenile African Boomslang.[57]
George Went Hensley, 74, male July 25, 1955 Unknown Hensley died from a bite sustained while handling snakes during a religious service in Florida.


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Mrs. Floyd Butterbaugh, 22, Female July 18, 1947 Timber rattlesnake Mrs. Butterbaugh was bitten by a timber rattler at her home on Piney Creek, 12 miles east of Chillicothe, Ohio near the Tar Hollow State Forest. She 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.[58]
Jerry Frier, 7, male June 22, 1943 Rattlesnake Frier died from rattlesnake bite in Lafayette County, Florida.[59]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Maggie Collins, 33, female May 29, 1929 Rattlesnake Collins died from a rattlesnake bite while picking blackberries in Grady County, Georgia.
Rebecca Nimmons, 19, female July 1928 Rattlesnake Nimmons was killed by a rattlesnake in Pickens County, South Carolina.
Jane Lancaster, 66, female August 21, 1921 Probably a timber rattlesnake The bite occurred in Franklin Township at Snake Hollow, near the present-day Scioto Trails State Forest, southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio, in Ross County. An article in the Chillicothe Gazette explained that it could not be confirmed whether the bite Lancaster suffered was from a copperhead or rattlesnake. Given the severity of her wounds, it was likely a timber rattlesnake.[60]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Helen Moomey, 4, female September 23, 1915 Rattlesnake Moomey died from a rattlesnake bite she received while playing with friends near her house in Billings County, North Dakota.[61] The prairie rattlesnake is the only venomous snake in North Dakota.
Two Wilson children June 1913 Prairie rattlesnake The children were bitten and died while their family was sleeping on the North Dakota prairie.


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Mary Bull, 12, female July 9, 1907 Rattlesnake Bull died from a rattlesnake bite in Shenandoah County, Virginia. The timber rattlesnake is the only species of rattlesnake in this region.
Frank Benham, 2, male September 25, 1903 Prairie rattlesnake Benham died from a rattlesnake bite in Adams County, Colorado, 17 miles north of Deer Trail.
Edward Comstock, 39, male September 25, 1900 Rattlesnake Comstock died as result of a bite from a rattlesnake during a snake handling exhibition on Water Street in Chillicothe, Ohio. A newspaper article read: "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 his hand into a box, when the rattler bit him. He had handled snakes for years."[62]

Before 1900[edit]

Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Belinda Rourke, 6, female June 1891 Rattlesnake Rourke died from a bite while playing near a pile of rocks near the family's ranch in the Purgatory River Valley of southern Colorado. The child survived for a day after the bite.
Rebecca O. Andrews, approximately 28, female c. 1890 Rattlesnake Andrews died from a rattlesnake bite in Kansas.
James Ananias Brannon, 2, male July 1882 Rattlesnake Brannon died from a rattlesnake bite received while lying on a blanket in Texas.
George Sides, 6, male May 30, 1873 Rattlesnake Sides died in Texas of a rattlesnake bite.
Frederick Louis Niemann, male 1873 Rattlesnake Niemann died in Saline County, Kansas, from a rattlesnake bite.
William A. Perrin, male 1859 Rattlesnake Perrin was killed by a rattlesnake at Stribling Springs in Augusta County, Virginia. The timber rattlesnake is the only rattlesnake in the state.
Maggie Lee, female October 24, 1854 Rattlesnake She was the first child to die of a snakebite in Parker County, Texas.
H. M. Pettigrew, 31, male August 15, 1841 Rattlesnake Pettigrew died from a rattlesnake bite while clearing land in Fannin County, Texas.[63]
Richardson, infant son of Wm. & Ella 1796 Rattlesnake Richardson Cemetery (Town of Springport, NY)
Unknown person 1791 Timber rattlesnake This was the last fatal snakebite in the state of Massachusetts.[64]
Child, 5 or 6 August 28, 1790 Rattlesnake A child was bitten by a rattlesnake, and died the next day, in Hardwick, Massachusetts.[65]

See also[edit]


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  59. ^ "Burval Genealogy - Person Page". Retrieved 22 April 2017. 
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General references

External links[edit]