A rattlesnake handler has died "doing what he loved" after being bitten by one of his animals at a live show.
Eugene De Leon Sr was handling snakes in front of a large crowd at the Rattlesnake Roundup festival in Freer, Texas, on Saturday (April 30) when the tragic incident happened.
De Leon was rushed to a nearby hospital by helicopter but sadly later died from his injuries.
The 60-year-old of the Snake Busters Snake Handlers was also a member of the Freer Volunteer Fire Department and a custodian for Freer High School.
He had more than 20 years experience handling rattlesnakes.
The Freer Chamber of Commerce, who organised the event, said: "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.
"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."
His sister Monica Dimas took to Facebook on Sunday (May 1) to confirm the horrific news.
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Sharing some images of her brother, she wrote: "Facebook family and friends I ask that you keep my Mom Evalina Morgan and family in prayer as 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…"
According to Caller Times, De Leon's death came four years after his son by the same name was bitten by a two-foot long rattlesnake on his left thumb.
The Rattlesnake Roundup is reportedly the biggest event of the year in the South Texan city of Freer.
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