DUNBAR TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A local man is hospitalized today after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

Richard Lawson, 47, of Perryopolis went for a hike Sunday afternoon in a remote wooded area in Dunbar with his wife and two teenaged children. He reached down to pick up his walking stick when he was bitten by the snake.

Emergency officials in Fayette County say he’s lucky to be alive.

There was no cell phone service in the woods, so Lawson had to walk for nearly an hour back to his family’s car.

When they arrived at the car, there was still no service, so his family drove him about a mile to the Fayette County Fairgrounds where he was met the Fayette EMS. They said was already showing extreme symptoms from the bite.

Lawson was flown to Ruby Memorial Medical Center where he is now in stable condition. This is the second time he’s been by a venomous snake in recent years.

Pam McQuistian, an environmental education specialist, says that’s extremely rare.

“Most of the snakes you’re going to run into in Pennsylvania are non-venomous,” she said. “We actually have 18 species of non-venomous snakes and only three venomous in Pennsylvania.”

McQuistian offered some advice if you ever encounter one this summer. She says don’t panic and leave the snake alone.

If you do get bitten, call 911 immediately.

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