LAKE McCONAUGHY – What felt like a bee sting on the inside of her left ankle turned out to be a rattlesnake bite on 27-year-old Brooke Namuth late Friday night at Lake McConaughy in western Nebraska.
Brooke and her husband Jordan, 27, were calling it a night after their two-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter fell asleep around a friend’s campfire at the Cedar View beach access at around 11:30.
On a windy night, the pair packed their things and began to trek back to their vehicle located on a blacktop parking area on a grassy hill over looking the lake, using the bright moonlight to help guide them. The family of four were approaching their vehicle when Brooke, who was carrying their son, stopped and said, “dang, a bee just stung me on the ankle.”
At first, Jordan didn’t think much of it and continued to walk until he began to hear a rattling noise. He threw everything down, grabbed a phone to shine towards the rattle and there was the adult rattlesnake, curled in a strike position in the middle of the trail the two have taken many times over the years.
“Instantly, my heart dropped and I switched to full panic mode, threw all of our coolers and chairs on the ground.” Jordan said. “I ran up to Brooke, pulled her sweat pants up and there were two little bleeding holes. Brooke, still thinking it was a bee sting, was trying to get our son buckled in his seat and started to get dizzy and short of breath. That’s when I grabbed her and yelled, ‘It was a rattlesnake, Brooke! Get in the vehicle.'”
Jordan thinks his daughter stepped right over the snake and his wife stepped right on it, because the rattler didn’t give any warning.
Jordan elevated Brooke’s ankle and rushed her and her two kids to Ogallala Community Hospital, 26 miles away.
“Instantly after the bite, she began to faint a little and get dizzy,” according to her husband of eight years. “It was hard for her to stay awake on the way to the hospital. She started swelling up in the face and neck, and was short on breathe. Her heart rate also skyrocketed before we started the treatment.”
Brooke was treated with four sessions of anti-venom every six hours to flush the venom. She is scheduled to leave the hospital after one more treatment Saturday evening and is expected to make a full recovery. The family has been at the hospital since midnight Friday.
Nebraska Game and Parks Conservation Officer Terry Brentzel, who is expecting a big crowd for the weekend before the Fourth of July, says this is the first reported snake bite he has heard of this year.
Jordan says this was a first for him and his family.
“You always heard the stories and we both grew up living around rattlesnakes and hunting old prairie dog towns for snakes, learning how to look and listen for them. But this is the first time with an actual bite first-hand.”
Lake McConaughy is a popular destination, especially during holidays like Independence Day on Wednesday.
Jordan advises visitors to keep your eyes and ears open.
“Think of your kids first while in areas with tall grass. I’m thankful it was one of us to get bit instead of our daughter or son. I don’t know what it would have done to one of their little bodies. This is real thing, they are around the lake but if you are cautious around such areas, you’ll be fine.”
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