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Golden boy, 11, lucky to be alive after rattlesnake bite at North Table Mountain Park

Ethan Vogel
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jun 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-15 16:58:50-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Ethan Vogel, 11, is lucky to be alive after an encounter with a rattlesnake.

He was mountain biking at North Table Mountain Park with his dad, Zach Vogel, of Golden, when the unthinkable happened.

“I was going in between two rocks, and I tried to make my way in between them,” Ethan explained.

The boy says he lost control, fell into a bush and felt a sting.

“Right on my right peck,” said Ethan. “I was kind of panicking. I was hoping it was a thorn.”

Golden boy, 11, lucky to be alive after rattlesnake encounter at North Table Mountain Park

But it wasn't a thorn. It was the sting of a rattlesnake.

“He fell right on top of the rattler,” said Zach. “And as soon as he pulled up his shirt, there was already blood there. We had seen the two bite marks on his chest.”

Zach called 911 right away, and within minutes, he says Ethan started having symptoms.

“My face and lips started tingling — my toes and fingers,” said Ethan.

“His face started to swell after those symptoms,” said Zach. "White spots started to show up on his face, eyes started to itch, and his tongue went numb. And at that point, speaking really wasn't an option. I was very concerned I’d lose him. There's nothing like having an 11-year-old in your arms saying he doesn't want to die.”

Ethan was rushed to St. Anthony’s Hospital before he was transferred to Children's Hospital. He was treated with 16 anti-venom injections.

The Rocky Mountain Poison Center says anti-venom is a costly treatment that's stocked in most metro Denver facilities.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says this is the time of year to expect rattlesnakes at some of the drier parks, like North Table Mountain.

"Rattlesnakes are coming out, looking for that warm sun to get their metabolism going and body temperature higher,” said Kara Van Hoose with CPW’s Northeast Region.

CPW says in order to avoid a rattlesnake, be aware of your surroundings.

"Look and listen to be aware of where you're stepping and where you're placing your hands on rocks, because rattlesnakes like to hang out on top of our trails and on top of our rocks,” said Van Hoose.

You should also listen for the distinct rattler sound. CPW says rattlesnakes make noise when they feel threatened. If you do see one, take another route.

One week after Ethan’s snake encounter, he's feeling a lot better.

"We've been doing swim practice, so that's helping stretch out the arm,” he said.

Ethan's father is thankful for everyone who saved his son's life, from other mountain bikers to EMTs and hospital staff. He is also warning others to be prepared so this nightmare doesn't come true for them.

"It was our worst nightmare that happened to come true just a week ago," Zach said.

CPW says rattlesnake attacks are rare, but encourages outdoor lovers to save the Colorado Poison Control phone number (1-800-222-1222) in your phone just in case.

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