Rare venomous snake bite on New Jersy hike put college student in ICU

Rare venomous snake bite on New Jersy hike put college student in ICU. He’s now recovering at home. A New Jersey college student was hospitalized for three days after he was bitten by a venomous copperhead snake on a trail in Mercer County. Kevin Murray and two friends were nearing the end of a sunset hike Thursday night at Baldpate Mountain in Hopewell Township when he felt a sudden, sharp pain coming from his left ankle.

“It felt like a bee sting at first,” said Murray, of Pennnington. He would realize with seconds that this was no bee sting — the 21-year-old college junior had been bitten by a snake that he later learned was a venomous copperhead.

Murray had good reason to be surprised — you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of being bitten by a copperhead, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“When it happened, I didn’t see the snake at first so I had no idea,” he said Wednesday, describing how he tumbled over after being bitten. “It was right in my ankle and I felt a really sharp, stinging pain. So I fell to the ground a little bit, and then I saw the snake right on the trail.”

Murray thought it the 3-to 4-foot long reptile might be a garter snake, but after texting his father the photo, both agreed his friends should drive him to Capital Health Medical Center — Hopewell to be examined.

Murray ended up spending three days in the hospital including a stint in the intensive care unit after doctors confirmed a copperhead was responsible.

He’s been home since Sunday but wasn’t able to walk without crutches until late in the day Tuesday, Murray said.

Doctors told Murray it’s fortunate the bite occurred near the end of the hike — just after 10 pm. — when the he was only about a minute-and-a-half from the car and noted it was smart that he snapped a photo of the snake, which aided in determining what kind it was.

If Murray had been bitten farther up the hill, it would have given the venom more opportunity to spread as he tried to walk on it, he explained.

“I really do consider myself very lucky because I know this could have gone a lot worse,” Murray said.

While at the hospital, doctors checked Murray’s heart rate and blood levels regularly to make sure the snake’s venom didn’t circulate throughout his body, and to ensure he could still wiggle his toes and feel his feet. His condition never deteriorated to the point where anti-venom medication was needed — a procedure that could caused lingering issues.

Despite the harrowing ordeal, Murray was in good spirits days after the scare.

“It’s probably not going to happen again — it’s probably not something I should let stop me from being able go out and hike,” said Murray, who will return to school at Loyola University in Baltimore in a few weeks. “I’m really lucky there are no long-term effects.”

While Baldpate Mountain is in northern Mercer County, state officials say the copperhead is generally “limited to hilly, forested regions in portions of northern New Jersey and a few isolated, hilly areas of Hunterdon and Somerset counties.

A Jersey City woman who authorities say was involved in the fatal shooting on Grant Avenue late last month will remain in jail until her trial, a Hudson County judge ruled Wednesday.

Jala Long, 21, who is charged with first-degree accomplice murder in the death of 26-year-old Raquan “Rocky” Bass, sobbed during the virtual detention hearing in front of Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale. Yasir Harrison, who is charged as the gunman in the July 24 fatal shooting, was ordered detained until trial at his detention hearing Monday.

Long aided “Yasir Harrison on the planning and commission of the offense of murder,” the criminal complaint said. The complaint also said Long was driving the car on Grant Avenue alongside Harrison when he approached and shot Bass dead. Harrison then got in the car and the two drove off, the complaint said.

Long’s attorney, James Doyle, arguing that she should be released, pointed out that the 21-year-old has no prior arrests and also claimed that she is a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Harrison.

Doyle told the court Long knew nothing of the plot to kill Bass, but Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Roe told the court that Long made “incriminating statements” that she had knowledge of the plan. “I told him not to do that,” Roe quoted Long as saying.

Long had also admitted to authorities that she “had made a big mistake,” the AP said in arguing that Long be detained through prosecution.

DePascale acknowledged Long’s lack of a criminal history, but he also noted the seriousness of the crime and that she faced a possible life sentence before he ordered that she be detained at Hudson County jail.

Bass’ shooting was the 15th homicide in the city in 2021. Days later, a woman walking near the sidewalk memorial during vigil for Bass was shot and killed. The city has seen 17 homicides this year, one more than all of last year.

There have been 21 homicides in Hudson County so far this year, three more than all of last year. There are also four deaths, including two in Jersey City, that are currently considered suspicious and could be added to the homicide total.

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