August 8, 2022

He had handled rattlesnakes for more than 20 years

A veteran snake handler has died after he was bitten at by a rattlesnake at a festival in south Texas.

Eugene De Leon Sr., 60, had handled snakes for more than 20 years but passed away at a hospital on Saturday, just hours after he was bitten.

De Leon was handling snakes in front of a crowd at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Freer when he was bitten on the shoulder.

He was airlifted to hospital in Corpus Christi, but died from the injury around eight hours after the incident, Freer’s police chief told KIII.

The event is organised and run by the Freer Chamber of Commerce, and they offered their condolences on Sunday.

In a post on Facebook, the organisation wrote: “On behalf of the Freer Chamber of Commerce we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Eugene DeLeon Sr.

“The love and dedication he displayed for his community was witnessed everyday from being a member of the Freer Vol. Fire Department to being a call away for local residents to assist with removing snakes from their property. He was always ready to help.

“We will never forget his excitement during Roundup time, from doing interviews with television stations to appearing on televised Wildlife shows, he did it all.”

The organisation said that De Leon “showed all of us to follow our passion and give back to our community.”

De Leon’s sister, Monica Dimas, said that her brother “had a passion for snake handling.”

She wrote on Facebook: “After many years of handling these things, today was not your day with them … Rest in Peace my brother.”

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The Rattlesnake Roundup is the largest festival in Freer and involves snake shows, feedings and various other activities and attractions revolving around the venomous reptiles, Newsweek reports.

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