A man camping on the Current River in southeast Missouri died of a venomous snakebite, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It is just the third such death in the state's history.
* The victim was 50 years old and died of a heart attack one day after being bitten on the thumb. Terry Brown of Ellsinore died at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.
* Erik McSpadden, deputy coroner for Carter County, told the Post-Dispatch Brown had been complaining of chest pain for days. Yet the snakebite "definitely contributed to his death" either from the stress of being bitten or the actual venom itself.
* Brown was celebrating his 50th birthday with family Saturday night when he was bitten. A copperhead was in a tent when the victim tried to remove it. The snake then bit Brown on the thumb. Authorities were notified of the snakebite at 9:14 p.m.
*The Springfield News-Leader reports Brown was unconscious within 15 minutes after being bitten. Family members drove several miles down gravel roads to meet an ambulance. At that point, EMTs took the victim to an Ellsinore clinic to stabilize him before going to Poplar Bluff, around 40 miles away.
* A snake expert with the Missouri Department of Conservation told the News-Leader there are two other reported deaths due to snakebites on record in the state. One was in 1933 from a timber rattlesnake and the other was in 1965 from a copperhead.
* Until the mid-1960s, all deaths due to venom were lumped together in one statistic in official records. Deaths due to bees, spiders and snakes would be indistinguishable until 45 years ago.
*The Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic talked to a friend of Brown's wife. The person said the victim was removing the snake from a tent of two 15-year-old boys who were camping with the family. Brown used tongs to pick up the snake before it wiggled free and bit him on the thumb.
* The friend said Brown wasn't afraid of snakes, knew the area well and was "always looking out for someone else."
* Brown lived in southeast Missouri his entire life. He is survived by his wife, two sons, one daughter, four grandchildren, three brothers and one sister. A public memorial begins 5 p.m. Friday at McSpadden Funeral Home in Ellsinore.
* Snakebites and their subsequent deaths are exceedingly rare. Annually, about 85 people are bitten by venomous snakes in Missouri. Nationally, only five people die from venomous snakebites every year in the United States from around 8,000 reported incidents. By comparison, 103 people die annually from falling on ice or snow in the United States.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.