Alabama father-of-two dies after being bitten by copperhead snake while walking puppy on Memorial Day
An Alabama man died this past Monday, May 27, three days after he was bitten by a copperhead snake at his family's home near Smith Lake, Tuscaloosa.
52-year-old Oliver 'Chum' Baker suffered the bite when his family had gathered at the lake home for a long holiday weekend.
Baker was reportedly outside on the stone patio walking his new lab puppy when he was bitten by a copperhead that was coiled up outside the back door, according to AL.
While bites from a copperhead are rarely fatal and its potency is the lowest amongst all pit vipers, the venom still causes extreme pain, tingling, throbbing, swelling, and severe nausea, as well as damage to muscle and bone tissue.
In Baker's case, the bite left him unconscious within minutes.
A relative gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics arrived, at which point he was driven to a nearby school so he could be airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
However, his condition was not stable enough to fly, so paramedics had to take him by ambulance to a Jasper hospital, from where he was later airlifted to a hospital in Huntsville.
In a Facebook post, his brother, Reb Baker, said that the MRI showed no signs of structural damage to the heart, lungs, or brain, but that the electroencephalogram (EEG) showed "subtle" brain damage.
Reb said his brother was intubated, comatose and in "critical condition" with renal failure. He also revealed that Baker had a high fever and that the family was waiting on bloodwork results to find out more.
But he never regained consciousness, and family later revealed that the 52-year-old had suffered a severe allergic reaction to the snake's venom which caused anaphylactic shock and, ultimately, cardiac arrest.
Speaking about the tragic death, Reb said, "It was a whole chain of events. His organs just couldn’t recover."
He also paid tribute to the 52-year-old's warm and welcoming personality. "He never met a stranger," he said. "He loved everybody. He would go way out of his way to help everybody. He never wanted accolades. Everybody loved him. It’s just unbelievable."
Baker, who worked at water quality control for the city of Northport, leaves behind his wife, Marilou Briney Baker, and sons Charlie, who only just graduated from high school, and 12-year-old Walden.
His memorial service is scheduled to be held in the sanctuary at First United Methodist Church of Tuscaloosa, 800 Greensboro Avenue, on Friday, May 31, at 11 am with visitation from 10-10:50.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Baker's grieving family. The page has raised $3,655 of a possible $200,000 goal in just 14 hours at the time of writing.