Elderly Tasmanian farmer killed by tiger snake

Eleanor Sly
·2-min read
<p>A small tiger snake in Sydney</p> (Getty Images)

A small tiger snake in Sydney

(Getty Images)

A farmer in Tasmania was killed by a giant tiger snake that bit him multiple times whilst wrapped around his body, sending him into multiple organ failure, a coroner’s report has ruled.

Winston William Fish, 78, was bitten by a 1.4m tiger snake whilst working on his sheep farm in Hobart on 28 January this year.

Mr Fish was using a quad bike on his property with his dog, Mac, when he came across the snake. It bit him and wrapped tightly around his body. Mac ran home without Mr Fish to the property Mr Fish shared with long-term friend Judy Hall.

“Ms Hall, who was present at the residence, thought that Mac’s return alone and his unusual behaviour indicated that something had happened to Mr Fish,” wrote coroner Olivia McTaggart.

Mrs Hall drove out to hunt for her friend and found him lying down with the snake “latched onto his right hand” whilst Mr Fish held its head “with both hands to squeeze it”.

Ms McTaggart added: “She saw that it had wrapped around Mr Fish’s right arm up to his neck and its body was moving around.”

Ms Hall called their neighbour for help and Greg McDermott arrived with his son Adam McDermott and friend Sam Lyall.

The group reported a “large black snake” which they eventually freed Mr Fish from by cutting its head off with a knife.

They then called a local doctor and an ambulance who gave Mr Fish tiger snake antivenom. He was then flown to Royal Hobart Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit.

Unfortunately, he did not recover and died on 30 January.

The state’s forensic pathologist, Dr Donald Ritchey, found the farmer had died from multiple organ failure due to the snake bites.

Coroner Olivia McTaggart was keen to remind the public: “The risk of death from snake bites to members of the public is extremely low”

“There have been three deaths from snake bites, including Mr Fish, since 1948” she added.

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