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San Diegan surfer survives bites from rattlesnake at Torrey Pines Beach

Matt Gymr has seen plenty of sharks and stingrays at the beach but has never encountered a rattlesnake.

SAN DIEGO — On Thursday, during his lunch break, lifelong San Diegan and avid surfer Matt Gmyr and his buddies hit up one of their favorite spots, South Torrey Pines Beach.

After having a great session and spotting a shark nearby, Gmyr decided it was time to get out of the water.

"I like to just step up onto this little section of dirt next to the curb and just check out the surf one last time and watch my buddies catch some waves," said Gmyr. "I felt like someone dropped a knife on my foot, like it was sharp pain and I look down and there's a snake attached to my foot."

Gmyr says it was about a 1 ½ foot diamondback rattlesnake, which would have made it a juvenile.

He knew immediately that he needed medical attention. Lifeguards and paramedics were called and quickly stabilized him, but Gmyr was already starting to feel the effects.

"I was feeling the full body tingling, the lips, the face, the numbness, swelling, and it was crazy," said Gmyr. "There's a point when I was calling out to God saying, ‘Oh, I don't want to die like this. Is this going to be how it's going to end? After surfing and getting bitten by a rattlesnake?’"

Gmyr was rushed to Scripps Medical Center in La Jolla where doctors treated him with multiple vials of anti-venom.

Considering there were five bite marks found on his foot, Gmyr was lucky to escape with his life. Doctors put Gmyr on an antibiotic and are doing blood tests, but he seems hopeful that he will be released sometime on Friday.

Gmyr’s story is an important reminder that rattlesnakes live almost everywhere in San Diego County, from the mountains to the beaches.

When the weather is hot and dry like it has been this past week, rattlesnakes are much more active. Hiding spots like scrubby brush or under rocks are particular favorites for snakes of all kinds.

If you do encounter a snake, leave it alone. If you get bit, seek immediate medical attention, and do everything you can to keep your heart rate down.

Gmyr was lucky to be bit nearby a hospital.

But on Thursday night, with his foot propped up, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of irony watching the Padres get beat by the Diamondbacks on opening day.

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