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Rattlesnake bite victim walks 45 minutes for help

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Sep 05 2013 08:38:01 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A Bozeman man bitten by a rattlesnake walks 45 minutes to his car and rides another 30 minutes to the hospital. It happened when he and two friends were floating the Jefferson River, Saturday, from Sappington Bridge to Williams' Bridge. A viewer told us about the bite after our story aired concerning the woman who found the rattlesnake on her neighbor's kitchen table. We wanted to get the facts firsthand so, we tracked down the man who was bitten to find out exactly what happened.

Heeb's Grocery Store Manager Jason Hauge is glad to be back at work after spending more than a day in the hospital.

He tells us he was out floating the Jefferson River with two friends. Hauge says the three had gotten out of their tubes and onto dry land when he literally walked right into a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake with no rattle to warn him.

"Just happened to be a freak coincidence that he happened to be coming out of the tall grass to sun himself right there on that little island. I mean, I would have seen him had he been curled up and ready to spring at me but he wasn't," explains Hauge.

Hauge says the bite itself wasn't painful but, thirty seconds later...

"I could see it started bleeding, it felt like someone was shoving a soldering iron into the side of leg," says Hauge.

Hauge tells us all he could think about was getting help.

"I've lived in Montana long enough to know the effects of rattlesnakes, been around them my whole life. I grew up on a ranch. I just pretty much kept it in my brain, I'm like, 'okay, I need to get to the hospital," Hauge explains.

With no way to call for help, he walked 45 minutes back to his car and made the 30 minute drive to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. Once he arrived...

"They were pretty amazed, I guess, that I had walked and that I was still standing," explains Hauge.

We called Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and spoke to emergency room doctor Eric Lowe. He tells us there are a number of factors that determine how venom will effect a snake bite victim like, the dose of venom and where he or she is bitten.

Lowe adds 25-percent of bites are dry bites that is, no venom is released.

He says for those with venomous bites, there's a strict protocol. They're given anti-venom and monitored for at least eight hours.

For Hauge, the anti-venom made him sick.

"Broke out in hives, puking uncontrollably," says Hauge.

He says the whole experience won't keep him from enjoying the outdoors but he will watch where he's walking a little more closely.

"I don't think I will do much differently. I mean, I love the outdoors in Montana, like I said, it's one of the reasons I live here in the state but, I'll definitely be a little gun shy about floating the river on a tube for a while," Hauge says.

Dr. Lowe tells us the hospital's seen more than one snake bite case in the last couple of weeks.