Dangerous debris: Watch out for snakes

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Craighead County man is warning residents of snake sightings in storm debris. The man was bitten by two copperhead snakes while cleaning around his home.

As residents continue clearing piles of storm debris out of their yard, it's important to pay attention to what's around you and what you pick up. A Dixie man experienced firsthand how easy it is to get bitten.

"My heart quit twice and I quit breathing three times," Billy Wise told Region 8 News.

Wise was removing the tarp from his quail pin when he spotted two snakes.

"A three foot one and a 13 inch long one laying there," he said. "When I picked them up I laid the tarp back down and went in the house and got the pellet gun and shot them in the head."

Wise threw the snakes in a burning barrel but it's what happened next that caught him by surprise.

"The little one latched out and grabbed my thumb right there and was just biting me and I was trying to get him off but he was on fire," he explained. "Then the big three footer struck me on the wrist."

Wise said was rushed to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould.

"My arm was like that big around and my hand was just so tight my fingernails felt like they were going to pop off," he said.

AMMC gave him a dose of anti-venom medication but one was not enough.

"They called the trauma center here in Jonesboro and the doctors told them he was uncomfortable handling my situation," Wise said.

Hospital staff referred Wise to another trauma center in Memphis but was told they didn't have room. He was then flown to a hospital in North Little Rock in Air Evac.

The ride cost him $43,297.33.

"It took 7 units of antivenin and Paragould only had 1," he said.

Wise said at one point he didn't think he would make it.

"You live in an area where there are snakes that's common to the local area and you don't have antivenin or a doctor willing to take on your situation," he said.

Wise has a message for residents who are still picking up debris in their yard.

"I'd be real cautious about picking any kind of thing up around a brush pile," he said. "There's snakes out there and they will bite."

We reached out to both Jonesboro hospitals and was told they both keep the anti-venom vaccine on hand.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.