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By Tim Hunt

Snake story--beware of tall grass

Uploaded: May 21, 2014

A Pleasanton friend learned this month to take the rattlesnake warning signs seriously.
Playing at the Course at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, he topped his tee shot from the blue tees on the downhill, par 3. After hitting another ball, he walked down and took one step into the high grass below the red tee box. About eight inches into the crud, he looked down and saw his ball a couple of inches in front of his foot, a coiled rattler on his right and blood on his right leg.
Backing carefully away, he told his friend to continue playing and flagged down a golf cart returning from the driving range that is above No. 7. Thinking it would take the ambulance 10 to 15 minutes to reach him from downtown Livermore and then another 20 minutes to reach the ValleyCare Medical Center's emergency room in Pleasanton, he opted to drive himself.
Mistake No. 2. As he drove the car with his right foot and leg, he was pumping venom throughout his system. He said he felt it everywhere but in his chest by the time he arrived at the emergency room. Fortunately, he had called his wife so ValleyCare was alerted. His blood pressure plummeted and it took the physicians about four hours to get it back up to where they could administer the anti-venom.
He was stabilized and transferred to Kaiser in Walnut Creek where he spent 3 ½ days in the intensive care unit plus another day in the hospital before they sent him home. There was a major scare with kidney function (it was about 10 percent of normal). He was bitten on May 5 and hoped to get back to work on May 15, although the ankle was still swelling when he stood up.
Looking back, he realized that the paramedic-staffed ambulance starts the emergency room process so the wiser course of action would be to get to the pro shop and lie down and await medical help.
His other decision is to stick to the mown green areas. He said he probably has played Wente 25 times and routinely went into the weeds looking for balls—a habit I have as well. No more. As he tells it, even if he were armed—so to speak—with a wedge, it would have done him no good. He thinks he stepped on the snake so it struck immediately before he knew it was there.
Checking with owner Phil Wente, Phil said it was the first rattler bite incident he was aware of on the golf course in its more than 15 years of operation.