ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Texas 17-year-old Aiyona Lee said she’s lucky to be alive after what started out as a normal hike quickly changed when she encountered a rattlesnake at Fort Phantom Hill in Abilene Tuesday evening.
“I was walking, and I felt something thick that I stepped on, and I heard a little rattle… It wasn’t loud, but it got me,” said Lee.
After the snake bit her left ankle, Lee told NewsNation affiliate KTAB she just took off running. But due to the bite, she experienced numbness and fell as her leg stiffened.
“It feels like fire, like a knife. It hurts really bad,” Lee described.
Lee’s friends immediately knew something was wrong when they heard her scream. Kyle Lackey said he hoped it was a cut from a cactus, but when he got a closer look, he knew she needed to be rushed to the hospital.
“She takes one step and runs towards us. We didn’t know what it was. She was screaming, something bit her. I looked at the back and saw two red dots in the back of her ankle and she started bleeding,” detailed Kyle.
Another friend, Kayley Washington, told KTAB that together they were able to carry her out of the field and rush her to the hospital.
“We carried her out, we helped her get to the car and everything, and I’m glad he went as fast as he did ’cause we wouldn’t have made it,” Washington praised.
Aiyona’s dad, Jerade Lee, said he was thankful for his daughter’s friends’ quick thinking that saved her life.
“It was panic at first,” said Jerade Lee. “All I have to say is ‘thanks’ to her friends for carrying her out of the location they were located at, getting her to the car and getting her to the hospital.”
The Abilene High School senior is expected to have a full recovery. But due to the extent of the swelling, she’s unsure if she will be able to walk across the stage at graduation.
“I’m hoping that I’m able to kinda walk on Saturday,” Lee added. “I highly doubt that I will be able to walk without the crutches.”
Regardless of the outcome, her friends said they will cheer her on. Lee now encourages everyone to be aware of their surroundings when outside.