STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
AUSTIN — On Jan. 22, three days after surviving a rattlesnake bite, 5-year-old Emily Oehler has started showing signs of a recovery.
“This morning, she has a sense of humor,” said her mother, Alicia Oehler. “Her spirit is excellent. She is so strong.”
Emily remains at Dell’s Children Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin, where she has undergone dozens of anti-venom treatments, while basking in the support and kind wishes from loved ones as well as the community.
“They told us (she might get out) Tuesday (Jan. 23),” her mother said regarding the medical staff’s evaluation. “They have to keep her on the anti-venom. Basically, it’s day by day.”
The ordeal for the Granite Shoals family started at about 11 a.m. Jan. 20 at Longhorn Cavern State Park, just off Park Road 4 in Burnet County.
Alicia Oehler, her four children, Alicia’s friend, and the friend’s daughter were hiking when the incident occurred near a picnic area.
“It was really fast. You could see a walking path. (The path) was between two bushes,” Alicia Oehler said. “As soon as they were right behind that bush, maybe three steps out of my sight.
“(Emily) just came flying around the bush, screaming. She was running. Her jacket flew off,” the mother added. “She ran into my arms. She told me, ‘It bit me!’”
First responders arrived, identified the snake, and whisked away Little Emily — who suffered a single-fang bite to the ankle — and her mother to Seton Highland Lakes in Burnet.
Eventually, the child was flown to the Austin children’s hospital.
“Her body is swollen all the way to her hip bone and back area,” Alicia said.
As the child’s recovery continues, Emily’s mother along with public safety officials have issued an alert to keep close watch on what might be lurking in the brush.
“It’s scary. We go hiking a lot. We love hiking. I didn’t think about it at all,” Alicia Oehler said regarding possible rattlesnakes. “It gives us a chance to remember to see our surroundings.”
The Granite Shoals Police Department, the agency in the community where the Oehlers live, echoed the sentiment.
“Our community is home to many snakes, and it’s important to remember those snakes may be out trying to warm up or hidden trying to stay warm,” a GSPD media release stated. “A bite from a venomous snake can be very serious or even fatal to anyone, especially children and the elderly (pets, too).
“Please use caution when around rocks or other areas,” the release added.
Supporters have started a Go Fund Me account for Emily to help defray the family’s medical costs.