14-year-old’s family thankful he is alive after he was bitten by a rattlesnake in Charlotte County

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
(Credit: Jessi Lynn Gerhart)

A 14-year-old is in the hospital fighting against venom after being bitten by a rattlesnake near Burnt Store Road and Rio Togas Road in Charlotte County.

The family of the teen, who goes by JJ, said he has been in the ICU since Monday. His grandmother said he has undergone many procedures and has received around 30 vials of anti-venom.

In the family’s most recent update, they said JJ was receiving a blood transfusion, and even though his battle is not over, they remain cautiously optimistic.

JJ loves the outdoors and loves to fish. “He takes his (fishing) pole everywhere,” said JJ’s grandmother Tammy Gerhart.

Gerhart said JJ was walking through an overgrown lot on Monday afternoon to fish at a nearby pond when he was bitten by a rattlesnake.

“He was taking a shortcut, and he had stepped into a ditch. And he never heard a rattle. He didn’t hear anything. He just felt something hit his leg,” said Gerhart.

After the bite, JJ managed to make his way out to the road.

“JJ did tell me several people passed him. Nobody would stop and help,” Gerhart said.

Finally, a couple riding their golf cart spotted JJ and rushed to help. The husband said he also saw multiple people drive right by.

“Grateful for the people that stopped and cared enough to see what was even going on. In today’s world, a lot of people don’t stop,” said Gerhart.

JJ is now being treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“He’s incredibly swollen and bruised, like all over. It does crazy things to your bloodwork,” said Gerhart.

It is rattlesnake mating season, which runs from October through April. FGCU’s Matthew Metcalf, a biological sciences instructor and a rattlesnake researcher, told us what you should do if you’re ever bitten by a snake.

“There’s lots of very similar-looking snakes, so getting an accurate photo, particularly of the face of that snake, is probably the best way to go. That way, you can bring that photo in and show the medical staff,” said Metcalf.

Identifying the snake that bit you can mean you get the proper treatment faster.

As for JJ, “Thank you, guys, for praying for me while I’m in here. It really helps,” JJ said. He knew exactly what bit him.

“We want to say he’s tougher than a rattlesnake, so we’ve got to get him through it,” said Gerhart.

JJ’s family wants to thank the community for their prayers and asks that the prayers continue. They also want to thank their family friend, Katie Johnson, for rushing here and donating blood if JJ needs it.

Metcalf said rattlesnakes prefer to be left alone and said if you see one, give them space and a clear exit. He also said never to try and handle a rattlesnake on your own and instead recommended calling an expert to deal with the snake.

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