'All We Heard Was a Child Screaming'—Copperhead Snake Sends 8-Year-Old Boy to the Hospital for 4 Days

A boy in Kershaw County, South Carolina recently offered thanks to the local sheriff's office for helping him after he was attacked by a venomous copperhead snake, which forced him to spend four days in the hospital.

According to local Fox affiliate WACH, eight year-old Wil Price was playing outside on August 2, when he experienced an unknown pain on his heel. "I feel something squishy, and then I felt the pain of a finger-prick on my achilles," he told WACH. "Hurting like fire, like a match, it just wouldn't stop."

Price's parents called 911 after bringing him inside. Kershaw County deputies rushed to the scene. Deputy Chris Delong spoke about the terrifying experience. "All we heard was a child screaming, and that's when we found Wil in the bedroom," he told WACH. Another deputy said that the police tried to keep Price calm, and they gave EMS responders an escort to the hospital when they arrived.

Price was immediately brought to the ICU, where he remained for four days, making a complete recovery.

In statements received by Newsweek via the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office, Price's parents detailed how scary the experience was. "These Kershaw County Sheriff department heroes along with awesome EMS team responded to this mom's desperate 911 call for help. The ambulance did not take long to get to us but at the time it seemed like an eternity, Wil's pain I think humans are not really meant to experience, between screams and begging us not to let him die, he began to pray the Lord's Prayer. The police officers in this picture prayed with him and encouraged him and they were first to visit when he came home from the hospital 4 days later. They never left and even escorted us to the interstate to get Wil the anti venom he needed," Price's mother wrote in a statement to the sheriff's office.

Delong said that the officers joined Price's prayer to help keep him calm. "There's not a whole lot you can do for a snake bite except comfort somebody and get them to the hospital," Delong told Newsweek. "The best way [Price] found to keep calm was, he just went straight into saying a prayer. Me and my guys, of course, respectful. We stopped what we were doing and went straight into prayer with him."

The following Saturday Delong and the other officers went over to pay Price a visit. "When things slowed down for us, I contacted the home of Wil, the boy who was bitten, and found out he was home and recovering," he said. "We went straight over there to check on him and talk to him and commend him for his bravery during that, for an eight year old getting bit by a rattlesnake-yeah he was a wreck, he was screaming, but he was pretty brave at the same time."

Kershaw Sheriff Lee Boan gave the child a "challenge coin," because he was brave after he was bitten by a deadly snake. Price returned the favor, offering his own custom-made wooden challenge coins that had "911 #1" carved into them, to thank both the deputies and EMTs for helping him after the attack.

Delong explained that getting to see Price and his family so grateful for all their help brightens their days. "It puts all the bad stuff that we deal with on a daily basis to the side for a little bit. To see somebody happy to see us and be more on a friendship level and not necessarily going there for a call, it gives us a break from our normal day-to-day activity where people are yelling at us, calling us names. It puts what we became police officers to do into perspective," he said.

Price was extremely grateful to both the deputies and EMTs that day, saying he was lucky to be alive, after getting bitten. "Each and everyone, each and every individual person that was at that scene helped me, [and] is a hero," he told WACH. "They saved my life, I could have died that day."

Since his recovery, Price also wants to help out kids that are staying in the hospital, by collecting pajamas to give to other children staying there.

Price's family thanked both the deputies and EMTs for the work they put in to save their son. "Our family is grateful for not just the fact you got to us fast, but for the care demonstrated when you arrived. Law Enforcement is only part of what your department does, the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department is much more than that," Price's father wrote in a statement to the sheriff's office. "The team from KCSD that responded that night, came back to check on our son the day we were discharged from the hospital."

Delong said that in the 10 years he's worked for the Sheriff's office he'd never responded to a snake bite for a child before. "Seeing a snake isn't out of the ordinary, but hearing about somebody getting bit by one is a rarity in itself," he said.

According to a fact sheet from Forestry and Wildlife Extension Agent Parker David Johnson for Clemson University, there are 38 species of snakes found in South Carolina, and copperheads are one of only six venomous snakes found. If you encounter a snake, Johnson advises leaving it be, as they rarely bite humans if they're left alone. "Most people are bitten or injured when either harassing or trying to approach a venomous snake too closely," he wrote. He said that in the case that you are bitten, like Price, you should seek medical attention quickly and don't try to treat the bite on your own.

copperhead snake
Photograph showing a birds-eye view of the brown and tan patterned body, and yellow tail, of a coiled, juvenile, venomous, Southern copperhead snake (Agkistrodon contortrix). Getty/Smith Collection/Gado