Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell had a near brush with death when he stepped on top of a coiled red diamond rattlesnake while on an annual fishing trip with his buddies this summer, including Gainesville attorney Steve Gilliam.
Low water in drought-stricken California made fishing along the Kern River in the Golden Trout Wilderness area of the Sierra Nevada mountains less than ideal.
As Powell waded and hiked his way downstream one day looking for a good pool to cast his line in, he took a fateful step that immediately shot a bolt of fear through his heart and mind.
Powell said he knew right away that he had stepped on a snake. He was surprised, however, that the snake hadn’t given its trademark warning by rattling its tail like a maraca.
“That’s what was unusual,” Powell said, speculating that perhaps the drought and heat had subdued the snake’s impulses.
Powell said that for weeks he obsessed over what might have happened had he been bitten.
He was deep in the wilderness, after all, miles away from any emergency medical care and perhaps a helicopter flight from a hospital with anti-venom.
“What saved him was attending the backcountry church service I conduct every year where I pray for everyone’s safety,” Gilliam said. “I came out unscathed except for a saddle sore on my butt from riding on a horse for five hours ... Billy rode on a pillow. We had a great trip, great time, but so-so fishing.”
Now that he’s lived to tell about it, Powell can find humor and satisfaction in the close call.
“It’s a beautiful snake,” he said.
Grandchild’s arrival causes Cagle to cancel Brenau visit
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s trip to Brenau University’s Child Development Center came at the same time as the arrival of Cagle’s grandchildren.
Cagle’s scheduled appearance Tuesday at Brenau for the “Georgia Reads Aloud” literacy program at the Brenau Center was canceled.
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