Golfer on South Dakota course dies from rattlesnake bite

A 70-year-old man died Monday after he was bitten by a prairie rattlesnake while golfing at a South Dakota course, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

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Lawrence Walters, of Geneseo, Illinois, was looking for a ball in tall grass at Elkhorn Ridge Golf Course when he was bitten on the ankle, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Lawrence County Coroner Marty Goetsch said the probable cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia secondary to the snake bite — a heart attack brought on by the reaction of Walters' body to the bite, the Journal reported.

“We do have areas marked with snakes on the golf course,” Mike Mendelson, golf pro at Elkhorn Ridge Golf Club told the Pioneer. “Unfortunately he was in an area that did have some snakes and was bitten.”

Mendelson said the man was looking for a wayward ball in the tall grass around hole No. 5 five when he was bitten on the ankle. The man was rushed to the clubhouse in a cart where another employee performed CPR until an ambulance from Spearfish arrived, the Pioneer reported. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, the Journal reported.

“We were actually kind of shocked to hear that he didn’t make it,” Mendelson said.

Mendelson said Elkhorn Ridge intends to post more signs warning golfers of the potential danger of snakes lurking in tall grass,

“That is just super unusual,” Dr. Brian Smith, professor of biology at Black Hills State University, told the Pioneer. “That’s the first case of rattlesnake death (in the Black Hills) that I’ve heard of in 21 years.”

Mendelson said Elkhorn Ridge intends to post more signs warning golfers about snakes.

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