Two boys lucky to be okay after being bitten by water moccasin in class

Published: Oct. 21, 2008 at 9:55 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2008 at 10:16 PM CDT
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It was a near tragic case of mistaken identity, as two East Texas High School students are hospitalized after being bitten by a venomous snake in their science class at Big Sandy High School.

Yesterday afternoon around 12:30, a student brought a harmless rat snake to the high school lab. It was put in an aquarium with another snake that had been in the class since early in the school year. The teacher had originally identified that first snake was a yellow bellied water snake. Turns out, it was a water moccasin, and the snakes began fighting. So when one student reached in to remove the rat snake, he was bitten by the water moccasin.

Another student tried to help and was bitten also. They are both in the hospital getting treatments of anti-toxin and are very lucky things aren't a lot worse. KLTV 7's Bob Hallmark has more on how the boys are gong to be okay, but questions need to be answered on how a highly poisonous snake could end up in a high school classroom.

Students and teachers at the Big Sandy science lab thought they had nothing more than a harmless water snake, but when another snake was brought into class yesterday, they found they had something lethal.

"I received a phone call approximately 12:30 that 2 students were bitten by a snake," said Big Sandy ISD superintendent Scott Beene.

When a rat snake was put it into an aquarium containing another snake, the snakes began fighting.

"They were retrieving the snake out of the cage and that's when they were bitten," said Beene. "The snake that did bite the students was brought in earlier in the school year by a student, it was thought to be a non-venomous snake, obviously that was incorrect."

The snake that had been in the classroom all that time, was a venomous water moccasin, which many were surprised to hear had been in the classroom all along.

Both boys were rushed to a Tyler hospital.

Many in the community are concerned over how a venemous snake wound up in a high school classroom in the first place.

"We were unsure whether it was a venomous snake or non-venomous snake in the beginning," said Superintendent Beene.

Packing a powerful hemotoxin, the moccasin was misidentified by a teacher, who thought it was a water snake - a mistake the school will not make again.

"It could have been very tragic, we are very fortunate that the students are doing well," said Superintendent Beene.

We spoke with family members at the hospital on Tuesday who say the boys are recovering and receiving healthy doses of anti-venom, though one is in ICU under a 48 hour observation period.

Superintendent Beene says the school made a mistake, and that they will more closely monitor what is allowed and not allowed in the science classroom. Beene also said that he had been to see both students, and that the snakes have been donated to the Caldwell Zoo.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.