PUTNAM, COUNTY, Fla. -- Clay Petruski was bitten three weeks ago by a huge rattlesnake and we found him still recovering at home Friday.
Petruski says he saw the snake in the middle of Holloway Road, a few hundred yards from his home. He did not want the snake to be run over and killed so he got out of his vehicle to try and get it to crawl off into the woods.
Instead, the snake came at him fast and latched on to his right hand and injected it's venom. He went right home and remembers nothing after 3 minutes. He woke up four days later in the hospital. He was there for two weeks.
Doctors tell Petruski it was the worst bite they have ever seen in Florida.
"They say it could be another month before than venom is out of me. It was the most venom injected in any test they have ever taken in Florida from any snake bite," Petruski said.
Petruski lost 28 pounds from the ordeal, and knows he is lucky to be back home with his family.
"The doctors, they have said it is a miracle, the doctor Tuesday reminded me that it was a miracle, that I was dead and they brought me back. It has made me look at life a lot different. I wake up every morning, glad to have another day. There are things I want to do. It means, I will be able to see my grandchildren."
He has quit smoking, and says he will never try to keep another snake alive like he did.
His wife Terri has been by his side the whole time. She wants revenge on the snake which she knows is still out there nearby.
"When I come home from work down that dirt road, if I see him, he is going to be dead, I am going to run him over, " said Mrs. Petruski. "I will then wait for him to die and he is going to be a pair of boots. "
Petruski went to the doctor on Tuesday and will do so every week, at least for the next month.
"They say the thumb took the worst, they are still not sure what is going to happen with it, as far as moving , the pinky is still the best one. I am feeling better but I am still 21 pounds less than I should be."
Petruski's hand is still very swollen. He said he was just trying to make it get out of the middle of the road so it would not be run over and killed.
"Most of them I mean you touch them with a stick and they'll go up over and into the woods and they are gone. I guess he had a bad day."
Pretuski had a bad two weeks in the hospital. He was in a coma for the first four days. Doctors used 52 vials of antivenin, costing around $13,000 each to fight a high ratio of snake venom in his blood. His bill for his hospital stay is now over $700,000.
Petruski said the doctors were great at UF Health in Gainesville. He says they plan to write up his case in a medical journal and use as a teaching tool.
Petruski says he has come across dozens of rattlesnakes out in the woods where he lives. He lives right in the middle of a state preserve. But he says the next time he sees one out in the middle of the roadway , he will just drive on by and let it be.