Hiker Airlifted from Romero Canyon Due to Rattlesnake Bite

By edhat staff

A woman was airlifted from Romero Canyon Trail Saturday after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

Around 9:10 a.m., Montecito firefighters and Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue were dispatched to the trail for a reported injured hiker.

Photo: Montecito Fire Department

When crews arrived they discovered a 26-year-old woman was hiking with her dog when she was bitten on the foot by a rattlesnake.

Santa Barbara County Air Support Helicopter 308 responded, hoisted the hiker up and landed at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital around 10:15 a.m.

Montecito firefighters then hiked down with the patient’s dog and turned it over to Santa Barbara County Animal Services who will reunite the pair.

Photo: Montecito Fire Department

During the rescue, firefighters spotted a bear on an adjacent trail. The Montecito Fire Department warns bear sightings have been increasingly frequent in our community in recent weeks.  

“As the weather warms up, wildlife is coming out. Please use caution while hiking & be hyper vigilant of your surroundings,” the department states.

Below is a video of the bear witnessed by crews from the hiking trail:

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Keep in mind that rattle snakes can and will climb bushes/small trees, as well as swim. So don’t think that by looking at the ground you are going to see a rattlesnake when it is at eye level in the bush next to your or swimming across a pool of water. I always carry my “snake stick” in case I come across a rattlesnake that thinks it’s going to jump on me with it’s fangs. Also, wear proper hiking or even snake boots if you can afford them. Better to be safe than what happened to this seemingly ill-prepared trail wanderer.
    BTW: A good walking stick doubles as my snake stick. No need to buy expensive/crappy walking sticks from REI. Go to a hardware store and buy a quality broom stick. I wrap about 20 feet of paracord around mine “just to have.” Alternatively, an aluminum cross-country ski pole works really well….just remove the snow basket.

    • Babycakes, how was she ill prepared because she got bit by a snake…? snake bites happen and you can be as cautious as you like, it’ll still happen if you’re out there. I’ve been bitten three times during SAR ops, and once i had snake guards on my shins. Still bit my calf.

    • Fondo, go tell that to the snakes. majority of the time, you hear a rattle. you can’t even see where they are. you slowly backup, as you were told, then….BAM strike to the back of your calf this is how it got me. they aren’t always out in the open, uncovered and easy to see.

    • Channelfog, so you were hiking in South America when this happened? I ask this because the only poisonous snake we have around here is the southern pacific rattlesnake. The snake you named is only found in south america. It isn’t anywhere near here in Santa Barbara, nor does it live in California.

    • Fondo, you’re VERY wrong. Very wrong. Leave them alone just like the female hiker did? leave them alone just like i did during a few SAR ops? Leave them alone like my dad did when he was pulling wood out of the pile for a fire and got bit?
      I don’t think you have any idea what you’re saying half of the time anyway.

    • FOND – you and BASIC and your obsession with votes…. cute. As to the meat of your comment, of course it is not true, you are wrong. There are many instances (see Karma’s comments) of rattlers striking unwitting hikers, fishermen, workers, etc. Think about what you are saying and now digging your heels in on:
      FONOFSB: Rattlers only attack if you intentionally bother them.
      Now, think about that comment some more. It’s ok to clarify or even admit you’re wrong, but to cry about votes is just….. come on.

    • Unfortunately, snakes don’t only bite if you aren’t “leaving them alone.” You can (and will) be bitten simply by coming across one by accident with no intent of harassing the snake. I’ve come around a few bends in my time to be met by a snake. Be aware as possible out there, don’t look for trouble and be sure you are able to call for help if needed!

    • Well yes, this morning walking around the water tower a damn near stepped on a Yarará, (another venomous pit viper) and freaked out. The dogs came running and I kept them at bay while taking a swift shovel thrust to said vipers’ neck. To the compost bin! I used to relocate them but they know their way home! In the wild we leave them be, around the farm, no.
      While I agree that large snakes can bite through leather, small snakes <24" cannot. If seriously hiking I wear thick hiking boots and Kevlar snake gaiters. The latter can get hot in summer though.

    • KarmaSB – Yes, South America, Southern Uruguay. Switched Lat 34ºN for Lat 34ºS. We have 3 pit vipers here; rattlesnakes (extremely rare), Cruzeras (not uncommon) and Yararás (extremely common)
      Since one of the dogs was bitten last year, I exterminate rather than relocate. They are not an endangered species.
      When I got the dog to the vet, they explained that 3 other digs had been bitten that month and they were out of anti-venom. I had to drive back to the farm where we had a dose. At least the dog was on IV and I returned in time.
      My scariest encounter was pulling myself up to a ledge while climbing Tangerine Falls. As my head rose above the ledge I found myself face to face,and two feet from a large, coiled rattlesnake. I froze, then ever so slowly shrunk back down the rock. A much closer look than I cared for!

  2. Agreed, great job on the part of the rescuers.
    Bitten in the foot? Is that because she wore open footwear rather than hiking boots? It is important to dress appropriately for the back country.
    As they said, wildlife is waking and rattlesnakes are hungry and very cranky after hibernation.
    That certainly is enjoyable bear footage!

  3. I’ve had many “close calls” with rattlesnakes, all hiking or at work in the foothills. Never knew the snake was there until it rattled. I’ve been in thick brush, unable to see my feet and had no idea which way to even go to get away. I’ve had a couple attempted strikes that happened when I was moving rattlesnakes off Mountain Drive and Gibraltar with a stick so they wouldn’t get run over

  4. To be fair to fond of sb, when I was in a foothill population serving grade school way back in the last century, 2-3 kids at the school were bitten by rattlesnakes and the fault was 100% the kids trying to catch it. Then there was another kid bitten while getting firewood. Believe it or not, some foothill families still heated their homes with wood, cooked with wood, heated water for bathing with wood and collecting wood and working a woodpile were very common ways to take a bite. The scariest way hands down would be when climbing up boulders in the creek bed like going around above seven falls, reach up onto a rock where you could not see and hear a buzz. Great way to break a leg, sprain an ankle. We used to toss pebbles or a branch up onto the boulders before putting our hands up there. Snaky trails with boulders near water where we’d found snakes before, we’d do what we called bowling for snakes, we’d roll rocks down the trail ahead of us and hope to trigger a buzz

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