Man recovering in Sarasota after a severe rattlesnake bite in North Port

Snake Bite

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A man is recovering at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Trauma Center after being bit by a rattlesnake Saturday morning.

Earl Hjertsdedt said it happened in North Port just outside of the new Braves stadium at about 10 a.m. There was no rattle and no warning.

“I was kind of panicking, [yelling] ‘I got bit, I got bit,’" Hjertsdedt said.

It was the last thing Hjertsdedt was expecting as he worked to build a fence in the marsh just outside of the new Braves stadium. The shrubs were chest high.

“It felt like, literally like a bat hitting my leg, and I looked down and started hearing the sound of the rattlesnake," said Hjertsdedt.

Excruciating pain hit next and everything went numb.

“The pain was something I haven’t felt, ever," Hjertsdedt explained. "So my main goal was just to get out of there.”

His coworker rushed him to the nearest emergency room, but they told Hjertsdedt they haven’t seen a snake bite like this in at least seven years and they didn’t have enough antivenom to help him.

“If there is a true envenomation, most patients will get either four or six vials up front," said Jeremy Lund, toxicology clinical pharmacy specialist for Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

The first hospital had 12 vials, but it still wasn’t enough to even stop the swelling, so they rushed Hjertsdedt to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

“In the last one week, we’ve had two envenomations come in, so it seems like something is going on out there," Lund said. "Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the reproductive cycle of the snakes that’s making them kind of more angst-y to get out there and envenomate, but we’ve also heard some reports of more snakes on the Legacy Trail as well.”

Only one fang sunk into Hjertsdedt’s leg, but he needed an emergency surgery to save it.

“If there was both fangs, I don’t even want to think about what could’ve happened," Hjertsdedt said. "Because one fang did a lot of damage.”

“Your normal pressure is 10-30 percent, his pressure was all the way up to 60 percent,” his wife, Diahanna Hjertsdedt explained.

She’s pregnant and due any day now and she can finally breathe a sigh of relief that her husband is stable, but they say his future is still uncertain.

“This journey is just beginning," said Hjertsdedt. "I have a feeling this is really going to impact my future. But I have the right support system to help me through.”

So how can you make sure you protect yourself from these bites? The experts recommend you wear boots and long pants while in high shrubs. They also say you should keep your eyes peeled on the ground you walk on when hiking or in any high shrubs and listen for the rattlesnakes.

This case is unique, but rattlesnakes will typically rattle to warn you first, then attack as a defense.

For more information about Florida snakes from Sarasota Memorial Hospital, click here.

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