St. Charles man dies after snake bite

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A St. Charles man is dead after he was bitten by a Copperhead snake.  It happened while he was camping with his son at Sam A. Baker State Park, just west of Cape Girardeau.

According to Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch, on Tuesday night, Levins spotted a snake right outside their cabin and picked it up.  Then, the 18 to 20-inch snake bit him three times on his hand.

Less than five minutes later, Levins went into anaphylactic shock, and died.  It’s a devastating situation, and incredibly rare. It’s only the third death from a Copperhead bite in the state’s history.

Missouri Department of Conservation Spokesperson Dan Zarlenga says, “Deaths from snake bites are pretty much below things like lightning strikes and slipping and falling on ice.”

Still, this sudden death is unnerving news for St. Louisans who love spending time in state parks.  Castlewood State Park visitor Kelly Debord says, “Kinda scary to think that you could die in a state park.”

Ryan Eichorn adds, “It’s terrible, because I go to a state park all the time, and that very well could have been me. So I’ll definitely keep an eye on that in the future and do my best to avoid any rattlesnakes, or any snakes for that matter.”

Zarlenga says avoiding snakes is key: “The vast majority of snake bites that occur, occur when people try to pick up snakes, or handle them, or kill them, or harass them in some way. So the best thing you can do is leave them alone, and that’ll really decrease your chances of any encounters with a snake.”

If you do get bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Zarlenga adds, “One of the things that also helps is try to do as little activity as possible, because the more you move, the more activity, the more your heart beats, the more the venom spreads through your body.”

Tim Levins’ funeral will be held Monday morning, at St. Peter Catholic Church in St. Charles.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Erin Levins College Fund. Click on the link to the left under Memorials and donate online or through the mail.

UGift: MOST - Missouri 529 college Savings Plan P O Box 219212 Kansas City, MO 64121-9212

(PLEASE INCLUDE IN THE MEMO FIELD "Erin Levins Acct# 547293051-01")


    • Captian Common Sense

      I dont mean to sound insensitive… but maybe those campers realize that they shouldn’t be picking up random snakes without properly securing it’s head. again, not to sound insensitive, but aren’t there PSA’s about *not* grabbing snakes?

      • Sensical

        Exactly what I was thinking when I read “Levins spotted a snake right outside their cabin and picked it up. Then, the 18 to 20-inch snake bit him three times on his hand.” What? Why was he picking up an unknown snake?? Crazy.

      • gengal

        According to relatives he was terrified of snakes and did NOT pick it up. He was walking and it bit him. Thanks Media for not getting it right once again.

  • Chelsi

    Ok just last month there was a man that died from a snake bite and the news said that it was the 3rd time in all of history in this state so I think you need to do more research of snake bites in this state

  • amy jung

    Lesson to be learned here: please don’t try to pick up snakes. Any of them, regardless of what species you think it may be. Just let them be to continue to do their good deeds in the ecosystem. This unfortunate incident shouldn’t incite fear into folks that State Parks are dangerous places. Just use your instincts and common sense, please, when in the wilderness.

  • Dazzette

    So sad! Why would he pick up a copperhead though? If he couldn’t at least identify that snake, he had no business camping in the first place. RIP.

    • Bill

      Loved the “best excuses for an injury” list at the scout camp at Osceola, Mo.
      Nurse; “why did you pick up that rattlesnake ?”
      Campers reply; ” I thought it was a copperhead”.
      True story !!!

  • Tina Garrison

    education is the KEY here ,,,PLEASE be educated about snakes and your surroundings when camping or in the woods and NEVER pick up a snake you have no idea what it is ,,,,,,,,, and PLEASE teach your kids to always watch the ground !!!!!!!!,,,,, my prayers are to this family


    Bottom Line…DO NOT pick up snakes. Our State Parks are VERY SAFE places to go, relax, and enjoy yourself. These few incidents can happen ANYWHERE! You just have to use your brain.

  • 2 cents

    not sure why god created snakes with venum the rat, king, corn, hognose, bull, earth, green, ring, blueracer, chicken even the water snakes do just fine with out it.. off with thier heads!!!! rip fellow nature lover.

      • Vic

        Yep. You are correct. Obviously, 2 cents doesn’t care about science. Snakes evolved (I’m doing this for you 2 cents because, obviously, your home school or GED program didn’t cover biology) because their prey developed senses, coloring or other protections and they needed to be able to kill quickly to compete. I’m going to go roll my eyes now.

  • rose

    Snakes have been more than plentiful in rural areas this year, especially Copperheads Bites do happen more often, many are bites are treated in rural hospitals, survive, but not without a lot of pain. As 2CENTS stated, ” off with their heads..” 5 have lost their heads this year around my yard,, nore this year than past 3 years together.

  • acmom

    Have some respect his son was with him. This was my uncle and he has children. He was the type of man that did anything fearless.

  • Alyb

    I know some of this man’s family and just wanna say that this is NOT about what he should of or should not of done..a man…a son…father……uncle..and friend lost his life instead of u inconsiderate ppl focusing on things that are irrelevant lets focus on the fact that many ppl lost a great person in a horrible ACCIDENT. God don’t like ugly. Yall should be ashamed.

    • Captian Common Sense

      The article was written as a result of what he did in an effort to illustrate what he SHOULDN’T have done. Not to be insensitive, but what would his children have learned if he successfully grabbed the copperhead without a bite? Grabbing snakes is okay?

      It’s unfortunate and horrible, but the plain truth is that homeboi grabbed a naturally occurring predator that happens to be wicked venomous without thinking “Hey, this might be a bad idea”. Now everyone gets to suffer because of it.

      No, you’re right though – we should have some respect for that.

    • Sherman

      That is why it is called the ugly truth. He should have taught his son the proper thing to do with foresight instead of hindsight.

  • lenakel

    Let us know if we can do anything. We do blood drives at that church often and would love to help. Mississippi valley regional blood center gives there condolences.

  • madhatter

    Such a tragedy. My condolences to his family for their loss. Please people, leave wild creatures alone! Any of them have the potential to do damage, and any of them could potentially cause an allergic reaction. Enjoy nature but don’t mess with it, especially snakes.

  • Annemarie C

    Bottom line, never pick up a random snake unless you know how to handle and if they are venemous …..I’m sure his son is traumatized but also wiser to not do what his father did . Continue to enjoy our beautiful state parks and always use common sense. My condolences.

  • james levins

    I’m curious as to where fox news is getting there information? For starters we were told he was only bit once. Also according to his son he never seen his dad holding the snake. Only running towards cabin saying he’d been bitten. Also to my knowledge the snake slithered away so how has it been identified as a copperhead? Smaller cottonmouths and copperheads look similar. Just curious to were this information comes from. You guys are running your mouths about a very very good man that was actually scared of snakes and was never known to mess with them.

    • Vic

      They can tell after examining the venom if nothing else. All they needed was a sample from the bite area.

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