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Veteran rattlesnake handler dies after snake bite at Rattlesnake Roundup

FREER, Texas — A rattlesnake handler died doing what he loved: performing with the animals during the Rattlesnake Roundup in Texas.

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Eugene De Leon Sr., died Saturday after a rattlesnake bit him on the shoulder that afternoon, Freer police chief Hector Doria told KIII. Organizers told the station that DeLeon had been performing with rattlesnakes and handling them in front of a crowd when he was bitten.

In a Facebook post, De Leon’s sister said her brother “gained his wings today doing what he loved doing,” and shared photos of her brother holding rattlesnakes.

Facebook family and friends I ask that you keep my Mom Evalina Morgan and family in prayer as my brother has gained...

Posted by Monica Dimas on Saturday, April 30, 2022

Along with his work handling rattlesnakes, De Leon was also a volunteer firefighter with the Freer Fire Department and a custodian for Freer High School, according to his obituary.

Freer’s Chamber of Commerce honored De Leon in a Facebook post saying, “The love and dedication he displayed for his community was witnessed everyday from being a member of the Freer Vol. Fire Department to being a call away for local residents to assist with removing snakes from their property. He was always ready to help.”

On behalf of the Freer Chamber of Commerce we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Eugene...

Posted by Freer Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, May 1, 2022

De Leon’s son, Eugene De Leon Jr., was bitten by a two-foot-long rattlesnake on his hand four years ago, USA Today reported. At the time, the senior De Leon was credited with saving his son’s thumb by immediately flushing out venom from the bite before he was taken to the hospital, the newspaper reported at the time.

The Kendall County Fair Association sends our condolences to the De Leon family and the Freer community. Eugene De Leon Sr. lost his life yesterday doing what he loved, being with the rattlesnakes.

Posted by Kendall County Fair Association on Sunday, May 1, 2022