Saint Lucia Tour Operator Joe Knows says he is fighting for his life after a snake bit him.
The internationally known tourism figure spoke Sunday afternoon to St Lucia Times via telephone from his bed at Victoria Hospital.
He praised medical staff for doing an excellent job under dire conditions including a lack of resources.
He said the snake bite occurred on Thursday of last week.
Joe, whose real name is Josiah Castang, recalled that he and a friend took a trip to a waterfall in the fishing village of Anse La Raye.
He told St Lucia Times that they got there about 4.00 pm.
The snake bite victim stated that after 5.00 pm as darkness was falling he told his friend ‘Shiloh’ that they should be heading back.
He explained that he knows the waterfall very well and was aware of the danger of snakes but had never encountered one.
“While making my exit across the river, one of the deadliest serpents was coiled by a rock. I did not see it, so while walking I stepped right on it,” the Tour Operator disclosed.
He said the fer de lance reacted by biting him on the foot.
“It stayed there – wiggled and wiggled and wiggled until it released all its poison inside me,” he stated.
Castang told St Lucia Times that afterwards the serpent darted into the bushes.
He said he called out to his buddy, telling him that he had been bitten by a snake.
“Instantly the venom started to work – I felt a burning,” he remembered, adding that his friend carried him to their vehicle and drove to the police station, where officers put him aboard a police van and drove him to Tapion Hospital.
“But Tapion does not have anti-venom,” he stated.
“All the time, about an hour later, the venom is travelling up my feet – my shin area started to swell. By the time I got to Victoria where they have the anti-venom, they put me in casualty and gave me drips and anti-venom and left me there for a while,” he said.
The businessman said a medical official explained to him that he had a 50-50 chance of losing his leg.
He recalled the official saying that the leg might have to be amputated because the situation was so bad.
Nevertheless, Castang said after consultation with other doctors it was decided to to cut open both sides of the leg to allow the blood to flow and the muscles to ‘breathe’.
He said the doctors then performed an operation.
“I am at Victoria (Hospital) still,” he said.
“I am fighting for my life,” he declared.
Castang revealed that his leg is in ‘tremendous pain’ with two deep wounds on both sides of his shin.
He expressed the view that the fer de lance is the worst type of snake in the world.
“It’s a true story bro, these serpents are running wild in the forest because nobody is taking care of them. They’re just breeding. People are killing them all over the place. We are infested with these yellow serpents in the forest area,” he declared.
He described Anse La Raye as being one of the most dangerous places for the creature.
“If I – as a tour operator can get bitten by a serpent and I am here fighting for my life, could you imagine what could happen to somebody else?”
He said the swelling in his leg has reached almost to the area of his waist.
“It’s serious,” the 45 year old who has been in the tour operator business since 1996, stated.
His business, Joe Knows Tours, has received rave reviews on TripAdvisor.
Castang said people were calling him from all over the world after hearing about his predicament.
Earlier this year the Forestry Department had expressed concern about reports of fer de lance sightings in Millet.
A department spokesman said at the time that although the snake is not on the protected list, people are being encouraged not to kill it if it does not posse a threat.
“The fer de lance has potential for value added because of the fact that we are beginning to understand that its venom is very important for curing heart ailments. So why would we want to kill a reptile that has benefits in terms of curing heart ailments?” A Forestry Official said.