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11-year-old bitten by rattlesnake on mountain bike trail was rushed to the hospital as he went numb

Ethan Vogel fell on his bike and landed in a bush with a rattlesnake. He thought he was going to die when he started feeling the symptoms of the venom.

GOLDEN, Colo. — An 11-year-old boy is home from the hospital after he was bitten by a rattlesnake earlier this week while riding the trails with his dad on North Table Mountain.

Ethan Vogel has been riding the trails in the Jefferson County Open Space park since he was 6 years old, and on Tuesday evening, he was excited to get out with his dad for a ride before it got dark.

While on the trail, Ethan went to put his foot on a rock but instead slowly fell over. The fall didn't hurt, but what he landed on did. 

"And then landed in a bush, and I just saw a rattlesnake right there," said Ethan, describing how he felt a pinch on his chest near his armpit seconds later. "So my face started turning numb, and I couldn't really feel my toes or fingers."

His dad, Zach, was riding right behind him, and called 911 within a minute of realizing his son had been bit.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Zach Vogel
Zach Vogel, left, and Ethan Vogel

He had hoped for a dry bite, meaning one without venom, but realized the bite was venomous as his son felt the symptoms.

"I was just scared, really," Ethan said. "I didn't wanna, I didn't wanna go. I didn't want to kick the bucket."

His dad held him, keeping him calm until the medics arrived.

"Laying in my arms and saying he's not ready to die, you know as a dad it's the last thing you want to hear," Zach said.

That moment didn't last long. Paramedics arrived in 19 minutes. Luckily, Ethan and his dad were close to a trail access point, and it wasn't difficult to get off the mountain.

Ethan first went to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood and then to the pediatric ICU at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Zach Vogel
Ethan Vogel

His dad said Ethan was given 16 vials of anti-venom. Doctors told Ethan he was lucky he wasn't bit in a vein.

He's sore, but not scared to ride again. He and his dad now know the importance of having a buddy and a phone on the trail.

"He can't wait to get back out," Zach said. "I can't wait to get back out." 

Jefferson County Open Space says that rattlesnakes can be active through early November and to stay alert on the trails. You can help prevent bites by wearing closed-toe shoes, keeping out one earbud and always looking before you step.

If you do encounter a rattlesnake, back away 30 feet and give the snake 30 seconds to decide to leave, then repeat as necessary. Throwing rocks or disturbing a snake only makes them defensive.

In the case of a bite:

  • Call 911 immediately and be prepared to provide an exact location.
  • Keep the bitten area at or below the level of the heart and take off jewelry or other constricting items in anticipation of swelling.
  • Do not cut, suck or ice the bite area.

Keep pets safe by keeping them on short leads, and watching where they sniff or investigate. If a pet is bitten, immediately transport them to a vet and be sure to call ahead to make sure they stock anti-venom.

You can help support Ethan with their medical expenses through their GoFundMe campaign.

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