March 26, 2008 in Nation/World

Stowaway rattlesnake bites coach as he unpacks

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

McLEAN, Va. – A high school coach emptying his luggage after a team trip to South Carolina was bitten by a small rattlesnake that had somehow gotten into his bag, authorities said.

Andy Bacas was released Tuesday after an overnight hospital stay.

Bacas, a rowing coach at Yorktown High School in Arlington, told authorities he felt a sharp pain on his hand Monday when he reached into his luggage after returning from the road trip. He then saw the nearly foot-long snake and slammed the suitcase shut.

Fire and rescue workers took the suitcase outside, opened it and blasted the snake, a juvenile canebrake rattler, with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. The chemical froze the animal to death.

Bacas’ son, Peter, said the luggage had been left open on a porch during the trip. A fire department spokesman said he had no information that the snake was deliberately put into the luggage.

Bob Myers, director of the American International Rattlesnake Museum in New Mexico, said it’s conceivable that a snake would crawl into luggage seeking warmth or shelter.

The venom from a canebrake rattlesnake can be particularly harmful, but a young snake is not usually large enough to deliver enough to be lethal, Myers said.


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