Man bitten by venomous snake, goes fishing
STEPHEN King's last day of 2016 started like any other, but ended with a scene that could have come straight out of a horror novel written by his namesake.
The 65-year-old Lawrence resident and his wife were fishing in the Clarence River on the morning of December 31 when his hands began to swell.
By 11.15am he was in the intensive care unit at Grafton Base Hospital.
That morning Mr King had left the house about 5am to feed his birds, when he found a 1m long snake coiled up inside the door of his quail enclosure.
Thinking it was a juvenile carpet python, he picked it up and was promptly bitten on both hands.
"Pretty much straight away I got a bad sweat and a bit of dizziness, but I came good and felt okay after breakfast," he said.
"I was still convinced it was a carpet python, and my wife and I decided it was minor, so we went fishing."
But Mr King's "she'll be right" attitude quickly dissolved when the culprit was identified in hospital as a Stephen's Banded Snake, a highly venomous nocturnal serpent.
The species is listed as vulnerable, but there have been a number of bites in the region.
In 2014, two teenagers camping at Minnie Water were hospitalised after an encounter with a Stephen's Banded Snake, and in 2013 a bite from the species resulted in the death of a man in Kalang.
When Mr King arrived at hospital on New Year's Eve, he was administered an antivenom, but as it was five hours after the fact it did little good.
"When it proved unsuccessful the doctors had to set about thickening my blood, because the venom thins your blood critically," he said.
"The hospital staff did a great job and kept me under observation for 24 hours until everything came back to normal."
Now back home, Mr King said he would think twice before trying to grab a snake.
"I did everything wrong, I should have gone straight to hospital," he said.
"I've had my block here for 20 years and hadn't heard of this snake... I've been bitten by carpet pythons so many times."
"Now I just want to warn the public about them because they can be quite deadly, especially at night."