Remarkable twist after woman bit by deadly snake 60km from nearest town

·3-min read

A woman had both the "luckiest and unluckiest" day of her life when she was bitten by one of the most venomous snakes in the world at a national park in Western Australia.

Last Sunday, Megan Brouwer was walking through Karijini National Park, which is more than 1300km from Perth, when she was bitten by a Western Brown Snake or a Gwardar snake.

Ms Brouwer told the ABC her husband yelled out "snake" while they were walking through Knox Gorge and she knew it was either on her or close to her by the way he yelled.

She said she spotted it out of the corner of her eye and it was about one metre long.

A woman was bitten by one of the world's most deadly snakes while hiking in Karijini National Park. Source: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA
A woman was bitten by one of the world's most deadly snakes while hiking in Karijini National Park. Source: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA

Western Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services said just by chance an off-duty doctor was hiking along the gorge at the time.

"Can it be the luckiest and unluckiest day of your life at the same time? Yes, it can," they said.

The doctor was able to apply a snake bite bandage to Ms Brouwer's wound, buying her time for help to arrive and to be carried out of the gorge.

The doctor had a satellite phone, but it wasn't getting a signal in the gorge, so the doctor ran up the gorge to make the call for help, which took about an hour, Ms Brouwer said.

Then, a seven-hour rescue effort was underway to get Ms Brouwer to safety.

It took seven hours to get Megan Brouwer out of the gorge. Source: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA
It took seven hours to get Megan Brouwer out of the gorge. Source: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA

SES Tom Price volunteers, Tom Price Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade, Western Australia Police Force officers, St John WA volunteers and local park rangers from WA Parks and Wildlife all contributed to the effort.

"The team braved steep cliffs, deep water and hot temps to get the patient safely to the waiting ambulance," the Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA said.

Images shared by the department show how emergency services made it through the gorge, which is difficult to navigate at the best of times.

On a stretcher, Ms Brouwer was taken through water, uphill and across rocks.

Several emergency services were involved in the rescue after Megan was bitten by a Western Brown snake. Source: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA
Several emergency services were involved in the rescue after Megan was bitten by a Western Brown snake. Source: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA

"The path itself got quite narrow at the edge of the cliff, and manoeuvring a stretcher around trees and up the cliff face was pretty scary for me," she told the ABC.

"There were also some unexpected things like wasps nests and lots of loose rock so footing was really, really important."

Once out of the gorge, Ms Brouwer was then taken to Tom Price Hospital, roughly 60km away and the closest to Karijini National Park. She was then airlifted to Port Hedland.

In the end, it was discovered Ms Brouwer received a "dry bite" meaning there was no venom, but if the snake had gone at her a second time, she might not have been so lucky.

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