UPDATE: The family of the South Carolina man who was bitten by a rattlesnake while kayaking has said that their original story was untrue. The details can be found here. The original story below has also been updated.
A South Carolina man thought he was going to enjoy a day outdoors with family Sunday, when things took a frightening turn.
The man, who was kayaking, was bitten multiple times by a rattlesnake and had to be rushed to an area hospital, according to Colleton County Fire Chief Barry McRoy.
The incident occurred when 28-year-old Anderson man Michael Adams and family members were kayaking on the Edisto River.
The rattlesnake fell out of a tree and bit the man on his hand, twice, McRoy was originally told. However, on Tuesday, Adams’ family members said Adams actually picked up the snake with his bare hands, foxcarolina.com reported.
Adams's cousin, Kyle Colquitt, said Adams paddled over to what he thought was an alligator in the water, but when he discovered it was a snake he yanked it into the air, according to abcnews4.com.
McRoy said he did not know how long it took the kayakers to reach a boat landing at the intersection of SC-61 and US-15, but he said Colleton County Fire and Rescue received a call about the bite at 5:20, and it took them approximately 12 minutes to pick up the Anderson man.
The man was rushed to Colleton Medical Center, which had antivenin waiting in the emergency room, according to McRoy.
During the ambulance ride, the man "was in bad shape, and greatly deteriorated," McCroy said, adding that the man's ailments included lots of swelling and airway problems.
The man was listed in critical condition, abcnews4.com reported.
While McRoy praised the work done in the ER, he said the man was flown by helicopter to MUSC Monday morning, saying typically that is not a good sign.
The rattlesnake was captured by friends of the man on the kayaking trip, live5news.com reported.
McRoy said the rattlesnake wasn't very big, estimating it was between 18 inches and 2-feet long.
This was the first reported rattlesnake bite in the county this year, McRoy said. He said there have been a number of copperhead snake bites reported, but typically in those cases the patients have been treated and released from hospitals.
In 2016, Wayne Grooms, a West Columbia naturalist, died after a snake bit him at Santee National Wildlife Refuge. Grooms’ death stunned many people in South Carolina because fatal snakebites are so rare. No more than a half dozen people die nationally each year from snakebites.