Florida boy bitten by water moccasin

Nathaniel Jones, 12, recovering at Wolfson Children's Hospital, father says

MACCLENNY, Fla. – A North Florida boy is recovering at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville after he was bitten by a venomous water moccasin Wednesday night. 

It happened just as the sun was going down, when 12-year-old Nathaniel Jones was walking through the front yard, his father told News 6 partner WJXT on Thursday.

"I was on FaceTime with my wife and about 8 p.m., he was walking through the yard and the snake bit him, so he ran in the house and he was panicking that he was going to die. She kept trying to calm him down," said Jason Jones, Nathaniel's father. "They called 911. They came and took him to a local Fraser hospital. Fraser (staff) determine to send him to Wolfson and he's been here ever since."

Jones said he was working in South Florida at the time and traveled to the Jacksonville hospital as soon as he could after the water moccasin bit his son on the foot.

"Hopefully, he gets out fine," Jones said. "From now on, he's going to wear shoes and watch out where he's walking through the yard."

Jones said his son, who is in good spirits and smiling, received his third dose of antivenin at 6 p.m. Thursday. The father said he's hopeful the third dose will be successful so his son doesn't have to undergo surgery.

Not only has this been hard on Nathaniel, Jones said, but also he and his wife. 

"For me, it's just scary because I'm four hours away from her. She's nervous because it's her baby and she doesn't know what to do," Jones said. "She can't help him -- she just has to sit there and watch him go through it and hopefully he gets out fine."

The family lives near a retention pond, so snakes are common. But Jones said he never imagined his son would be bitten by one. 

He hopes it serves as a warning to other parents to be extra cautious this summer. 

"If you let your kid go out, make sure they watch where they go look for snakes, any objects, where they could get hurt," Jones said. "This could happen to anybody."

After Nathaniel was bitten, Jones said, they were able to kill the snake and then gave it to paramedics when they arrived. At the hospital, doctors were able to determine it was a water moccasin, which helped them determine how to treat Nathaniel. 

Jeff Altman, a local snake expert with American Trappers, said Nathaniel's family did the right thing by safely killing and keeping the snake for paramedics. 

If a child is ever bitten by a snake, Altman offered this advice for parents: 

  • Don't apply a tourniquet. Instead, lightly cover it with a towel.
  • Don't ice it because that could lead to frost bit.
  • Don't let the person with bite walk because the venom could spread. Carry the person if possible.
  • Additionally, keep the person calm and get medical attention as soon as possible. 

Jones said Nathaniel is not allowed to leave the hospital bed until there's more improvement in his foot and the swelling goes down.