East Ridge snakebite death called highly unusual

Experts said the death of an East Ridge man who was bitten Saturday by what police said was a copperhead snake is highly unusual.

Wade Westbrook, 26, of 1058 Blanton Drive, was handling the snake and was bitten above the right elbow, East Ridge Police Department spokesman Erik Hopkins said in a news release.

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Firefighters and ambulance personnel used CPR and Westbrook was taken to Erlanger hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Hopkins said.

Dan Hicks of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said it's "extremely unusual" for someone to die from a single copperhead bite.

"It is especially unusual for someone to die as quickly as he did. And it is very rare for someone in a metropolitan area to succumb to a bite. Usually they are able to get help on time," Hicks said Sunday,

Because of this, Hicks said his agency is not verifying that Westbrook actually died from a snakebite until an autopsy is completed. He said it is possible that some other factor was involved, such as some pre-existing condition

See Monday's Times Free Press for complete coverage.

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