AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 5-year-old girl is recovering at Dell Children’s Medical Center Sunday night after she was bitten by a rattlesnake in the Hill Country on Saturday.
Emily Rose Oehler was playing by the picnic area at Longhorn Cavern State Park in Burnet County when a western diamondback rattlesnake struck her on the ankle.
“I just saw her flying around the corner and she was screaming, ‘Snake!’” said her mother, Alicia Oehler. “She ran so fast that her jacket flew off.”
Hoover Valley EMS arrived within minutes and took Emily Rose to a hospital in Burnet where she was met by a rescue helicopter. STAR Flight transported Emily Rose to Dell Children’s Medical Center, where she has been treated with 16 doses of antivenom medication so far.
“I’m just terrified. I hope that the antivenom just takes, you know,” Alicia Oehler said. Emily Rose is doing well, but her parents say she is still in a lot of pain.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department told KXAN rattlesnakes normally don’t strike in the cooler months. “It’s extremely unusual for any snake to be out right now,” said Tim Elmore with Texas Parks & Wildlife Law Enforcement, “usually they’re pretty lethargic and kind of hibernating right now.”
Emily Rose’s mom says her kids did hear a rattle. She wanted to immediately see what kind of snake bit her daughter so she could tell EMS to make sure the right antivenom would be given. She never spotted the snake. However, Elmore said a witness was able to point out the location where the bite occurred and after a short search, he said he spotted the snake and managed to take pictures of it.
As their daughter recovers, the family is hoping to warn other parents to be aware of their surroundings. They had gone hiking at Longhorn Cavern many times. “There’s a good little trail there,” Oehler said. “It’s easy for the kids — it was just gonna be something to get them out of the house and let them run around there for a little while.”
They don’t have insurance and are not able to take paid leave from work while they stay with her at the hospital. They have set up a gofundme page to help pay for the antivenom and hospital expenses.