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13-year-old survives rattlesnake bite

By Johnathan Silver
June 11, 2014 at 1:11 a.m.

Donna Dudley secures the dressing on her son's leg, so he can get out of bed and practice walking and using crutches at Citizens Medical Center on  Wednesday. Ricky Dudley, 13, was bitten by a Western diamondback rattlesnake at his grandparents' house  Sunday evening and has been recovering at the hospital since.

Ricky Dudley was the last person one Western diamondback rattlesnake should have bitten.

Now, the once nearly 4-foot-long reptile finds its resting place in a freezer awaiting preparation to become a memento marking the unusual end of a weekend for the 13-year-old Port Lavaca resident.

Ricky crossed paths with the snake Sunday. He had returned from the rodeo intending to check on his dog but was intercepted by the creature, which family members assume concealed itself near a flowerpot on a sidewalk at his grandparents' residence. Ricky's grandfather and uncle found the snake and shot and killed it.

After the attack, Ricky used headphone cords as a tourniquet to prevent the spread of the snake's venom.

"I was scared - just trying to get away from it," he said. "That way it didn't try to get me again."

At first, it was more startling realizing that a snake had bit him than it was painful, he explained.

"It doesn't hurt as bad as you think," he said. "But it's more painful afterward."

He was concerned about what would come next.

"I was scared about what they were going to do," he said. "I'd never been bitten by a snake before."

His right leg and foot became swollen; then came the procedure Monday afternoon to alleviate it. Wednesday, he was recovering at Citizens Medical Center from the procedure called a fasciotomy on his right leg. For Ricky, it meant cutting into two sides of his leg to reduce pressure and prevent damage to his nerves and tissue.

Now, the Travis Middle School student and athlete is undergoing physical therapy twice a day and is building strength to walk throughout the day. He could be released as early as this weekend.

"It feels different," he said. "You have to try to hold your balance. Avoid tripping - you have to use your upper body strength."

After the family returns home, they'll be more alert when outside, said Donna Dudley, Ricky's mother.

"I think they're all now cautious about where they're going," she said.

Midcoast Fitness and Self-Defense in Port Lavaca, where Ricky practices Krav Maga, a type of martial arts and self-defense training program originating from Israel, is hosting a fitness competition June 28, and all proceeds from the event registration, donations, sales of water and a silent auction will go toward Ricky Dudley's unexpected medical costs.

"I was shocked and in awe," Donna Dudley said. "I really, really appreciate them doing that."



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