June 3, 2009

Snake bite victim prayed for attacker

A Maryland man bitten by a baby copperhead snake at his apartment inside a Buddhist temple said he prayed for the animal before setting it free.

Sam Pettengill, 36, said he assumed the tiny snake was harmless when he found it inside his studio apartment Sunday night at the Kunzang Palyul Choling temple near Poolesville, so he attempted to pick it up, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

He said some friends helped him catch the snake in a vase and identify it as a potentially venomous species after it bit him twice on his index finger. However, he said he took the snake on a three-minute walk around the temple's holy Enlightenment Stupa, offering prayers for a higher rebirth, before setting the animal free and going to the hospital.

David Srour, who works at the emergency room of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, said snake bite victims usually come in with the dead snake in tow, but Pettengill offered only a calm description of his experience.

He was very calm. It was unusual, I thought, Srour told the newspaper. He talked about the snake in an almost reverential tone.