A WIRES volunteer bitten twice on the hand by a highly venomous snake, 'blacked out' at the wheel and crashed his car at Bonville last night.
Police responded to a single vehicle accident on Pine Creek Way, 10km south of Coffs Harbour, on Sunday around 7pm.
A 4WD left the roadway and crashed head-on into a tree.
Earlier Bruce Dwyer, a 75-year-old snake catcher, had attended a nearby property to retrieve the snake that was originally thought to be a harmless brown tree snake.
Reacting to the venom, he blacked out at the wheel and crashed and was rushed by paramedics to hospital in a serious condition.
Relying on the expert opinion of snake handler Steve McEwan doctors at the Coffs Harbour emergency department established the snake was a highly venomous rough scaled snake.
Mr Dwyer was treated with anti-venom and this afternoon was listed as stable.
"Rough Scaled snakes are a little whippy snake,"snake handler Steve McEwan said.
"This one was about 40cm long.
"I've had a few near misses myself with these snakes, you shouldn't pick them up by the tail because they are very good at coming back up at you.
"I can understand if the snake catcher thought it was a brown tree snake he wouldn't have been too concerned thinking it was just a mild venom snake with rear pointing fangs.
"These snakes are quite common and over the years there have been a few reported bites in this area.
"A girl was bitten by one recently after she trod on one.
Also known as a Clarence River snake, rough scaled snakes, are found between the Barrington Tops and Southern Queensland with an isolated population around Cairns.
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