Boy survives rattlesnake bite


For 7-year-old Wyatt Meyer it was a bad ending to a good day. He and his friend Kostya Marowitz had just returned from a trip to town last week when disaster struck.

“I had taken Kostya with us to the Tar Pits, and when we got back, his mom was to meet us at the 76 station at Corral Canyon,” said Patricia Hill-Meyer. “While we were waiting for her, the boys jumped up on this big rock and then climbed about five feet above it. Then he screamed.”

Wyatt said he had been bitten and said he heard a rattle. Kostya said he saw the snake but that it was black, and he didn’t hear the rattle.

“I was standing about 50 feet away. I saw something dirt-colored moving in the dry grass, but I didn’t see that it was a snake,” Hill-Meyer said. “Then blood was running down his leg — he had on shorts, tennis shoes and socks — he was bitten in the back of the calf. We headed to Urgent Care. They cleaned the blood off and looked for the puncture wounds.”

By this time, Wyatt was beginning to think he might die, and fear was producing another set of symptoms. “He had heard that it would go to his heart and kill him. He was so terrified that he was hyperventilating,” Hill-Meyer said. Then the doctors saw throbbing under his bottom lip at the corners (signs of what they called particulating) so they called for the helicopter to take him to UCLA.

“By the time we got to UCLA, they were waiting for us,” Hill-Meyer said. “Dr. Jonathan Feldman, assistant professor of pediatrics, was in the ER, and there was a snake specialist who was heading the ER for the week. We couldn’t help much because we hadn’t seen the snake.”

Doctors gave Wyatt morphine and benedryl, but they wanted to wait before giving antivenin because of possible allergic reactions.

“We watched for more than an hour,” Hill-Meyer said. “It [the area of swelling] was slowly getting bigger and so they decided to give the antivenin about 9 o’clock, every 10 minutes a small amount.

Wyatt’s parents stayed with him through the night in a room in the pediatric wing. “In the morning, he was able to walk enough to get around and we all went home, but Dr. Feldman said we still have to watch for a reaction to the antivenin.”

His mother says Wyatt doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. “His friends all called. It was helpful to talk about it for awhile, but now it’s enough.”

“At least I was there,” Hill-Meyer said. “I’m almost always working. That I could be there for him, this was a blessing.”