Snake Handler in South Texas Dies After Being Bitten by a Rattlesnake

Eugene DeLeon Sr. died on Saturday after being bitten during a "Rattlesnake Roundup" event in Freer, Texas, earlier that day

Eugene De Leon Sr.
Photo: Facebook

A longtime snake handler is dead after being bitten during a show in South Texas over the weekend.

Eugene DeLeon Sr. succumbed to his injuries Saturday night after being bitten by a Western Diamondback rattlesnake at a "Rattlesnake Roundup" event in Freer, Texas, earlier that day, ABC affiliate KIII-TV reports.

Freer Police Chief Hector Doria confirmed to the outlet that DeLeon Sr. was bitten in the shoulder around 1 p.m. on Saturday and was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Corpus Christi. The animal handler died Saturday night at around 9 p.m.

PEOPLE's request for more information from the Freer Police Department was not immediately returned.

DeLeon Sr.'s sister posted to Facebook regarding the loss of her brother, writing, "My brother has gained his wings today doing what he loved doing, he had a passion for snake handling at the rattlesnake round up in Freer."

"After many years of handling these things today was not your day with them.. Rest in Peace my brother..." the post continued.

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The Freer Chamber of Commerce — which puts on the Rattlesnake Roundup and counts the event as the largest festival of the year in the city, according to the New York Post — also mourned DeLeon in a post on social media.

"The love and dedication he displayed for his community was witnessed every day 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," the chamber of commerce wrote in part on Facebook.

"He was always ready to help. We will never forget his excitement during Roundup time, from doing interviews with television stations to appearing on televised wildlife shows, he did it all."

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