This past weekend on May 21st 2021, horror struck a local family. What seemed to be a normal Friday evening turned into an emergency when a father, Robbie Kelly was bitten by a copperhead in his backyard. It seemed like any other day for the Kelly family; cleaning up around the home and mowing the lawn to get ready for the weekend. But no one anticipated how fast a snake bite could occur.
Robbie tells us how unexpected this was for him, “I have a seven-year-old daughter. And she has an old playset, but she got a new one for Christmas. So we were getting ready to take the old one down. I reached down into some tall grass to pick up my straps by it. I had the straps there so the wind wouldn’t blow it over. And the grass is kind of tall with all the rain. I reached down into the grass to undo the strap and suddenly it felt like a fire ant bit me. I pulled my hand up and it was actually still attached to my thumb. Luckily it only got me with one fang.”
The snake that was still attached to Robbie’s hand was a venomous copperhead. But at that moment, the only thing he could think of was not the bite, but to get rid of the snake before it caused more damage. “I came into the house. I knew it had bitten me, but I guess with the adrenaline, all I could think of was that I just need to kill it. It wasn’t until after I killed it; I really noticed my thumb was bleeding.”
Robbie’s wife insisted that they go directly to the emergency room. Robbie was treated here at Palo Pinto General Hospital, where he was lucky enough not to need anti-venom. The wonderful medical staff monitored the bite closely by marking the original bite to see if there was an increase in swelling. The team checked the wound every twenty minutes as well as consistently monitoring his bloodwork. Fortunately, Nurse Practitioner Joe Graham explained to Robbie this was a dry bite. Robbie learned that “One in every four copperheads will give a warning bite. Which is actually a dry bite before they inject venom into you.”
Not only was the family thankful that the situation turned out to be okay. Robbie was most thankful his daughter, Madi, was safe. “Not three minutes before that, my daughter was picking up her toys in the back yard so I could mow around it. I felt terrible. Thank God it was me and not her.”
Ironically, this is not Robbie’s first snake bite. He experienced a water moccasin bite in the summer of 1997. He wants everyone to know that this is more common than most people realize. “I grew up way down south and we had copperheads really bad down there. And you normally know they are there; so they never really bothered me. But ever since I got bit in 97, even after I whack it with the T-post. I’ll shoot it just to be sure.”
He notes several occasions over the past year that snakes have been a problem all over Mineral Wells. “I worry about the kids. I think the kids need to be aware. My daughter is a little different because we live in the country. She has an idea, but they are still in the city. My mom lives on 23rd and she had one not too long ago.”
Also, let it be known he says, “I killed a rattlesnake south of town last year that didn’t even have any rattles on it. It was a diamondback rattlesnake, but with no rattles. The rattlesnakes in the brush country as well won’t rattle because of wild pigs. The pigs will eat the rattlesnakes.”
His daughter was excited to tell me how she plans to go forward. Madi says, “A snake is not gonna keep us from enjoying the outdoors. It’s just gonna make us pay attention and watch what’s around us.”
I hope all who read this story will take away the important message here, and to always be prepared, and keep a watchful eye while enjoying their memorial day weekend.
Writer | I graduated from Weatherford College with an Associates in Art, focusing on history, creative writings, sociology, and humanities. Experience in child development, client care, and runs local Spoken Word Poetry group for young teens.