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From the Lewiston Tribune, Lewiston, Idaho, July 3,2008:

Close snake encounter ends with self-inflicted injuries

Asotin man recovers from wounds after snake-shot pellet gunfire hits his face

ASOTIN - Frank Jeffreys is wearing protective guards over his injured eyes to help keep them closed.

The 24-year-old Asotin man’s face was peppered with snake-shot pellets last week during a fishing outing on Joseph Creek, near the Oregon border. Jeffreys was hit after he fired a shot at a rattlesnake and dropped the gun.

“I can’t see anything out of my right eye,” he said Wednesday at his home in Asotin. “I can see shadows and silhouettes out of my left eye, but I am supposed to keep them closed so I don’t put any stress on them.”

Jeffreys was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle last Thursday after he was taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center. He was released Monday night, but there will be future surgeries to help repair the damage, he said.

“They are going to see what they can do to reconstruct my eye, but they couldn’t guarantee anything.”

Surrounded by several family members, Jeffreys described the painful ordeal, saying it was a life-changing event.

“I was up at my friend’s house and I had just walked over the bank toward the creek to go fishing when I heard something. I turned around and a rattlesnake was at eye level on the bank. I shot once and the snake lunged. A rock rolled out and I dropped my gun. When it hit the ground, it went off.”

He said being hit in the eyes and face with a round of snake shot was excruciating.

“It was horrible,” said Amanda Taylor, who was with Jeffreys when it happened. “I thought he got bit by the snake at first. When he moved his hands from his face, blood was everywhere. It was very scary.”

After calling 911, they started driving toward town and met the ambulance en route.

Jeffreys said it was the second rattler he’d encountered on the fishing trip. He was carrying a .22-caliber pistol to ward them off.

“The snakes are obviously pretty thick this year,” he said.

“I usually take a gun with me. I grew up here, and when I’m in snake country, I carry one.”

The snake-shot pellets still lodged in his head are expected to eventually work to the surface, he said. “I still have pellets scattered throughout my face.”

He’s going to Spokane Tuesday for more treatment. He said he’s focusing on the future and his recovery instead of worrying about what he could have done or should have done differently last week.

Jeffreys said he’s been off work for a while dealing with other health issues. “I work on cars. I’m a self-proclaimed mechanic.”

He lives with Taylor and their 3-month-old baby, Lainey. His mother and sister drove here from Fort Worth, Texas, following the accident, and a brother is coming home from Iraq after being granted emergency family leave.

He has Medicaid, but the family is struggling with expenses, said Amanda’s mother, Tonia Taylor of Sweetwater.

“This is a real tough situation,” she said.

A bank account has been set up at Clearwater Credit Union in Tonia Taylor’s name, and a yard sale will be conducted Friday and Saturday at 734 Stewart Ave., in Lewiston to raise money for the family.

Posted by Frank - July 3, 2008 - Thanks to John for the referral.

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