Brush with death

Earlier this year, I walked into a Wal-Mart store in Texas and bought a pair of shoes. I had no idea that I was risking my life.

BROWNWOOD, Texas (AP) — Police say a man was bitten by a rattlesnake while shopping for shoes in a Wal-Mart store in Texas.

Douglas Hatchett of Brownwood was examining shoes on a rack when a rattlesnake concealed behind a shoebox bit him yesterday. The snake fell to the floor, where Hatchett stomped it to death.

Police, fire and emergency medical crews were called to the scene.
The 31-year-old shopper and the dead snake were hustled to Brownwood Regional Medical Center. There, the snake was confirmed as a rattler, and Hatchett was treated and released.

Wal-Mart officials say the matter’s being investigated and they have no comment.

Brownwood is about 120 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

UPDATE: Perhaps my shopping trip wasn’t insanely reckless after all:

Brown County Attorney Shane Britton has opened an investigation that could result in criminal charges against a Bangs man who claimed a snake bit him inside Brownwood’s Wal-Mart.

Douglas Hatchett, 31, claimed a small rattlesnake bit him on the hand Monday as he shopped in the store’s shoe department. Hatchett was taken to Brownwood Regional Medical Center and released about nine hours later.

Britton said he has been in contact with officials from Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., and officials at the retailer’s district office in Midland. Britton has also subpoenaed medical records from BRMC. He said he expects to have his findings compiled next week.

“If it turns out this incident was fabricated, I would assume that Wal-Mart and Brownwood Regional would be interested in filing charges,” the prosecutor said.

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