Man bitten by rattlesnake in heroic act to protect grandson


CALLAHAN, Fla. - A Father's Day gathering in Nassau County took a scary turn when a grandfather was bitten by a venomous rattlesnake in a heroic act to protect his grandson. 

Thatcher Nightingale, of Callahan, was hospitalized Sunday at UF Health in Jacksonville after he sacrificed himself by jumping between a pygmy rattlesnake and 3-year-old Shelton Dawkins.

Thatcher Dawkins, the boy's father, said his son was picking berries with Nightingale when Shelton discovered the slithering threat.

Though small, it was a venomous pygmy rattlesnake. 

Fearing the snake would strike the child, the grandfather took action by jumping between his grandson and the snake.

"He interfered with it and took the bite instead of my son," Thatcher Dawkins said. 

The 43-year-old grandfather was bitten in the finger. The venom traveled from his finger to his arm, attacking his nervous system and causing excruciating pain in his chest.

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