By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Mark McNeal, Jr. was walking to the sidewalk of Randalls at Quinlan Crossing last week when a rattlesnake bit his ankle sending him to the hospital for several days.
On Sept. 24, three friends, all recent graduates of Vandegrift High School, met up to go to Randalls to get something to eat. McNeal, Clay Lancashire and Dylan Locke started walking down the main sidewalk from the parking lot when a snake bit McNeal as he passed by the lantana. He jumped and then fell to the ground.
Instantly, there was blood from the fang marks on McNeal’s ankle.
Lancashire went over to look for the snake, knowing it was important to identify if possible. He spotted the five to six foot snake with a rattle on its tail, verifying it was a rattlesnake as it slithered away.
“I was hoping it was not venomous,” McNeal said.
The pain of the bite intensified as minutes went on.
“It was like being burned. The pain was pulsing and getting sharper and sharper,” he said.
The friends knew they needed to get McNeal to the hospital. Locke drove him to Lakeway Regional Medical Center. While Lancashire checked McNeal into the emergency room, Locke parked the car.
“I was glad they acted as soon as they did. It made a difference,” McNeal said.
His parents arrived shortly after finding their son hooked up to an IV.
“They had an IV in him and were preparing the antivenin when we arrived,” said Mark McNeal, Sr.
McNeal, Jr. was on a morphine drip for more than 18 hours and ended up spending two nights in the hospital.
“The two boys did phenomenal. They went to inspect the type of snake to give that info to doctors. They immediately drove him to the hospital,” McNeal, Sr. said. “I think those two boys are heroes.”
Lancashire, who graduated from VHS in 2013 with McNeal, went to the hospital four years ago after being bitten by a snake. He learned then to try to see the type of snake involved in such cases.
For Locke, who graduated in 2012 from VHS, rattlesnakes are still something pretty new since he grew up mostly in Colorado.
“It was a new experience. The whole poisonous snake thing is new to me,” said Locke, who is working with a small local team including Lancashire on creating a video game called Subject X.
Randalls’ store manager said they would notify the property manager to see if there was a deeper issue with more snakes or a nest.
McNeal, Jr., who works at Pizza Hut, is grateful for his friends and has a word of warning:
“Watch where you walk… and (if bitten) always check the snake.”