Friends to gather to remember former Steamboat resident killed by rattlesnake
November 29, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Friends will gather Saturday to live, love and laugh while remembering the life of an former energetic Steamboat Springs resident who died after being bitten by a rattlesnake Oct. 1 in Golden.
The event to remember Dan Hohs will begin at 6 p.m. at Barley Colorado Craft & Draft at 635 S. Lincoln Ave.
Rattlesnake bite deaths are rare in the United States with about five occurring on average each year.
Friends and loved ones were shocked to learn of Hohs’ death, especially because he was in top physical condition, and he died so quickly.
An autopsy report released this week by the Jefferson County Coroner's Office does not provide many answers.
Hohs was a 31-year-old triathlete, who competed in his first Ironman event in August 2014.
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He had recently moved to Golden to live with his girlfriend and was hiking about one and a half miles up from the Mount Galbraith trailhead in Golden when he was bitten on the ankle.
After being bitten, Hohs took a couple of steps and sat down, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
A doctor in the area helped care for Hohs, and he was evacuated to St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood.
Hohs died two hours and 12 minutes after the initial call for help was made.
As part of investigating Hohs' cause of death, his blood was sent to a lab for testing, but nothing unusual was detected.
"I was very interested in seeing what the results were," Dr. Laura Sehnert said Wednesday. "It didn't make a lot of sense. What happened?"
Sehnert, an emergency department physician at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, was not involved in treating Hohs for the snake bite, but she has treated bites before while practicing medicine in Denver.
Sehnert reviewed the autopsy report obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request.
"He just had a very profound reaction to the bite, with all the known and suspected things that a bite can do," Sehnert said.
Sehnert said a protein in the snake venom causes internal bleeding.
Hohs developed swelling in the brain in addition to internal bleeding surrounding the heart and lungs.
"All things we would expect to see in a rattlesnake bite," Sehnert said.
The outcome could have also been fatal if the venom was injected directly into the vascular system.
"Also, theoretically, if there is a lot of venom in the muscle during exercise there could potentially be more rapid circulation of the venom," Sehnert said.
Some people also may be more susceptible to snake venom.
"It's kind of like a bee sting," Sehnert said.
Rapid treatment with anti-venom at a hospital is vital.
"If you do get bit, the most important thing is to get to the hospital," Sehnert said. "You need to get there immediately."