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Unlucky Seffner man bitten by two snakes at the same time

TAMPA — For University Community Hospital, John Agan became unlucky number 13 Tuesday afternoon.

The 46-year-old truck driver was the 13th snake bite patient treated by the hospital in 2009, said Will Darnall, a hospital spokesman.

But Agan's story is more than unlucky. Darnall said he was bitten twice — at the same time — by two different snake species.

"It's not impossible for snakes of different kinds to be in the same area at the same time," said Lt. Lisa Wood of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Antivenin unit. "But both snakes biting the same person would be highly unusual."

Agan said he was walking his rat terrier, Lil Bit, at the Masters Economy Inn on 6010 N State Road 579 Tuesday afternoon, when the dog got away from him near the trash bins. He said he and his wife were staying at the Masters until the pipes were fixed at their Seffner house.

"I went to catch up with her in the grassy area and there were these two 4-foot boards by the Dumpster," he said.

He said he's not sure if he jostled the board or nudged it, but he felt a sharp, stinging pain in his right shin and looked down to see a 10-inch red and yellow snake gnawing on his foot.

"I saw that and thought, 'Not again,' " because he's been bitten before, he said.

Agan called for help, and when Hillsborough County Fire Rescue paramedics arrived they asked him how the bite mark on his bruised shin felt.

"It felt like someone holding a torch up to my leg," he said.

That's a pygmy rattlesnake bite, they told him.

Then he described the snake he saw, and hospital workers agreed with him that it was probably a coral snake.

Agan said he's previously been bitten by a water moccasin, diamond-backed rattlesnake, and some non-venomous snakes, but he is not a snake handler.

"They happened mostly around my yard," he said.

Wood said that's possible if Agan attracted mice by feeding a pet in his yard, or let the land become overgrown and wild.

"But usually someone who has been bitten that many times handles snakes," she said.

UCH immediately treated Agan for the pygmy rattlesnake bite, Darnall said.

But the antivenin for coral snake bites is becoming scarce, so the hospital had to ship it to Tampa from Miami, Wood said.

Darnall said Agan would be considered in critical condition until after he was treated for the coral snake bite when the antivenin arrived after 10 p.m.

Fire rescue workers never found the snakes.

Two years ago, Agan was in the news after saying he had been robbed, beaten and stuffed in the trunk of his cab after he picked up a two men on his way to the grocery store.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Unlucky Seffner man bitten by two snakes at the same time 10/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 7:22am]
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