‘Worst nightmare’: S.C. 2-year-old suffers copperhead snake bite

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF/Gray News) - A parent’s fear came true for one Horry County family, and they hope their story will help keep it from happening to someone else’s child.

Atlas Johnson, 2, was in his yard when he was bitten by a copperhead. (Source: Contributed/WMBF/Gray News)

Two-year-old Atlas Johnson was in his front yard when he was bitten.

“Wednesday night, we were walking down the driveway, and we were walking to the car. And I stepped off the concrete first, and as soon as Atlas stepped off behind me, he got bit by a snake right here, struck him in the back of the leg, and I handed him off to his mother. And we saw in the light the two fang marks. I took my light and saw that it was a copperhead, and we rushed him to the hospital as fast as we could," his father, Gregory Johnson, recalled.

Once at Conway Medical Center, Atlas’ parents said they monitored him for four hours, gave him Benadryl and sent him home.

But by the next morning, they said the swelling and discoloration of Atlas’ leg was worse, so they went back to the hospital.

“The staff at the hospital and MUSC, they came up with a plan that they were going to start giving the Crofab, and they asked if we were OK with that, and we said, ‘Yeah, I wanted my little boy here," Taylor Gibson, Atlas’ mother, said.

Crofab is a type of anti-venom used to treat a person who has been bitten by a venomous snake. Atlas was given the medicine two times over the next 24 hours.

“The next morning, his foot looked amazing compared to it being black when we were at the hospital," Gibson said.

But this isn’t slowing him down. After spending several days in the hospital, Atlas was running around and pointing out airplanes Monday afternoon, while his parents watched, not letting him out of their sight, happy that he’s alive.

He's fearless despite what happened just a few days ago.

“I’m still terrified to let him out in the grass. I’m not comfortable with him going to play yet, but who would? Because even though he was one step ahead of him and one step behind him, we couldn’t stop it," Gibson said.

His mother's hoping this will serve as a lesson to other parents to always check before their kids go outside and play.

“It’s just, you never know. You should, and if they get in the playsets, in the cars, in the toys. Right now, I’m looking in the area under our porch because he could get under our ledge,” Gibson said.

And to always be thankful for every single moment.

“I feel blessed because we got the best possible outcome. On the way home from the hospital, he started crying and I said, ‘Doesn’t it feel wonderful just to hear him cry?’" Johnson said.

Atlas will continue to check-in with his pediatrician and will continue recovering over the coming weeks and months.

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