List of fatal snake bites in the United States

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This is a list of people who received a fatal snake bite in the United States by decade in reverse chronological order.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) kills the most people in the US, with the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) coming second.[1]

Snake species[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

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, gender Date Species Location, comments
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.[5]
Timothy Levins, 52, male July 8, 2014 copperhead While camping at Sam A. Baker State Park, Levins walked outside, saw the 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 off at the kitchen sink and sat down on the couch. When Levins became sick, someone from a neighboring cabin came over to help and applied CPR. Levins was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.[6]
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.
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.[7]
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.[8][9] 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.[8] Wolford was a pastor and often handled his pet snake during church services.[8] Wolford's father, Mack Wolford, died in 1983 under similar circumstances.[10]
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.[11] 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."[12] Westbrook was pronounced dead on arrival at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[12] The cause of death was determined to be "anaphylactic shock as a result of the snake bite."[12]
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.[13] Price had been taking part in a study of steelhead trout that was funded by a state Department of Fish and Game grant.[13] 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."[13] Price was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center, but later died.


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Richard Rupert, 68, male October 10, 2009 Timber rattlesnake Hunting with grandson in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.[14]
Pfc. Norman M. Murburg, 29, male June 9, 2008 Cottonmouth Bitten during special forces selection at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.[15]
Jackie Ledwell, 63, female October, 2007 Mojave Rattlesnake Bitten while taking a walk in Paulden, Arizona.[16]
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.[17]
Former police officer from Madison County, Texas 2006 Copperhead [18]
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.[19]
Margaret Wilson White, 54, female July 2005 rattlesnake Hays County, Texas near Wimberley along Ranch Road 12, about a quarter mile west of County Road 213.[20][21][22]
Trent Leprette, 31, male June 2004 Copperhead 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.[23]
Professor Chavez, 34, male May 2003 rattlesnake Killed in Riverside County, California.[citation needed]
Pat Hughes, 45, male August 2002 rattlesnake 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".[24]
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.[25]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Anita Finch, 33, female Reported December 17, 1999 Gaboon Viper or Hog-nosed Sand Viper Bitten by either of these snakes she kept as pets in her Van Nuys, California home.[26]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Adult male 1980s rattlesnake A single fatal rattlesnake bite was reported in Utah during this decade.
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.[10] Wolford did not initially seek medical treatment.[27] An ambulance was summoned eight hours after Wolford had been bitten, but he died during transport to Stevens Clinic in Welch, West Virginia.[10] Wolford's son, Mark Wolford, died in 2012 under similar circumstances.[8]
John Holbrook, 38, male August 1982 rattlesnake Reverend Holbrook was bitten while handling a rattlesnake during religious services in Oceana, West Virginia.[10][28] Holbrook reportedly refused medical assistance because his religion did not permit it.[10][28]


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".[29] A five-day police search recovered Ball's body from a small clearing "near Warboys Road, on the swamp's northern perimeter."[29] An autopsy report listed snakebite as the presumptive cause of death.[29][30]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
George Went Hensley, 74, male July 25, 1955 unknown Died from a bite sustained while handling snakes during a religious service in Virginia.


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Jerry Frier, 7, male June 22, 1943 rattlesnake Died from rattlesnake bite in Lafayette County, Florida.[31]
Mrs. Floyd Butterbaugh, 22, Female July 18, 1947 timber rattler Was 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.[32]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Rebecca Nimmons, 19, female July 1928 rattlesnake Killed by a rattlesnake in Pickens County, South Carolina.
Jane Lancaster, 66, female August 21, 1921 probably a Timber Rattlesnake 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.[33]


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Helen Moomey, 4, female September 23, 1915 rattlesnake Died from a rattlesnake bite she received while playing with friends near her house in Billings County, North Dakota.[34]
Two Wilson children June 1913 Prairie Rattlesnake Bitten and died while family was sleeping on the North Dakota prairie.


Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Mary Bull, 12, female July 9, 1907 rattlesnake Died from a rattlesnake bite in Shenandoah County, Virginia.
Frank Benham, 2, male September 25, 1903 prairie rattlesnake Died from rattlesnake bite in Adams County, Colorado, 17 miles north of Deer Trail.
Edward Comstock, 39, male September 25, 1900 rattlesnake Died 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 his hand into a box, when the rattler bit him. He had handled snakes for years.[35]

Before 1900[edit]

Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Rebecca O. Andrews, approximately 28, female c. 1890 rattlesnake Died from rattlesnake bite in Kansas.
James Ananias Brannon, 2, male July 1882 rattlesnake Died from a rattlesnake bite received while lying on a blanket in Texas.
George Sides, 6, male May 30, 1873 rattlesnake Died in Texas of a rattlesnake bite.
Frederick Louis Niemann, male 1873 rattlesnake Died in Saline County, Kansas, from a rattlesnake bite.
William A. Perrin, male 1859 rattlesnake Killed by a rattlesnake at Stribling Springs in Augusta County, Virginia.
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 He died from a rattlesnake bite while clearing land in Fannin County, Texas.[36]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Norris R. 2004. Venom Poisoning in North American Reptiles. In Campbell JA, Lamar WW. 2004. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. 870 pp. 1500 plates. ISBN 0-8014-4141-2.[page needed]
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Venomous Snakes". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Copperhead snake page". Archived from the original on 2000-09-16. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Missouri woman wakes to find boyfriend dead after he was bitten by water snake". Mail Online. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Dean, Dana; Aja J., Williams; Zigman, Leisa (July 13, 2014). "Snakebite kills Missouri man". USAToday. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Tim O'Neil (July 4, 2012). "Camper dies after Copperhead bite along Current River". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  8. ^ 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. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Snake-handling pastor dies after bite". The Boston Globe. June 1, 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2014 – via HighBeam Research. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Ghianni, Tim (January 31, 2011). "Tennessee man dies from poisonous copperhead snake bite". Reuters. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ a b c Repard, Pauline (October 15, 2010). "La Jolla man dies from rattlesnake bite". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Christian Boone (Oct 13, 2009). "Boy couldn't save snakebit grandpa". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ( Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Special Forces soldier killed by snake bites". September 17, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Snakebite Deaths Still Rare but are Mounting". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "Southeastern Outdoors – Fatal Coral Snake Bites". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "The copperhead snake". Retrieved 23 September 2013. [not specific enough to verify]
  19. ^ Lise Fisher (October 11, 2005). "Snake bite is deadly for Putnam fire official". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "July 29, 2005 - Search for missing woman in Hays County". 
  21. ^ Anita Miller (Jul 27, 2005). "Wimberley Woman Missing". SAN MARCOS DAILY RECORD. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Missing woman found dead, bitten by snake". August 1, 2005. 
  23. ^ "Fatal Snake Bite". June 23, 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  24. ^ "Snake bite kills Sierra Vista man". Tucson Citizen. August 20, 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  25. ^ Zucco, Tom (November 13, 2004). "Trial calls Animal Planet host". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Zoo volunteer killed by deadly snake bite". Sacramento Bee. December 17, 1999. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "Snake Bite Proves Fatal". Daily Sitka Sentinel (Sitka, Alaska). 31 Aug 1983. p. 7 – via 
  28. ^ 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. 
  29. ^ 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. 
  30. ^ "Coroner Says Snake Bite Fatal". The Times Record (Troy, New York). 13 Aug 1973. p. 7 – via 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Dies Of Snake Bite". The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio: 1947-07-19. p. 6. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  33. ^ "First Death from Snake Bite in Ross County Since Records Of Mortality Has Been Kept in This County". Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  34. ^ "Little Girl is Mortally Bitten by a Rattlesnake". The Marmarth Mail VIII (42). September 24, 1915. Retrieved 20 August 2014 – via USGENWEB ARCHIVES. 
  35. ^ "Seeking Relatives". The Billboard. 12, 13 ( Jul–Dec 1900. p. 97. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  36. ^ "Fannin Co. TX Pettigrew Cemetery N. of Windom". USGENWEB ARCHIVES. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
General references

External links[edit]