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Boy honored for helping recover snakes at crash scene

Dozens of venomous snakes escaped following crash

SOMERSET, Texas – Members of Emergency Services District No. 5 took a little time Thursday evening from their regular meeting to honor Curtis Kuykendall for his actions after a rollover accident involving him and his grandfather, Blaine Eaton. 

Eaton said he doesn’t remember much about the morning of June 28.

“I remember going into the grass and rolling the first time. I have no memory, after that,” Eaton said.

Eaton, a herpetologist, and Kuykendall, 9, were hauling nearly three dozen snakes and other reptiles when they had a blowout on I-35 near Shepard Road. The rollover accident left Eaton with multiple fractures and released nearly all the snakes.

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“I had broken cages everywhere. There was mulch everywhere. Snakes everywhere,” Kuykendall said. “It was pretty scary. It was like a nightmare roller coaster.”

First responders from multiple agencies arrived, but when it came time to take the lead, the child stepped up.

“[I] just started telling people what type of snakes they were, if you could pick them up with your hands or if you had to use the tongs or the hook,” Kuykendall said. “This young man kind of took command and said, ‘This snake needs to go with this snake. You need to keep this one out of the sun and oh, there's another rattlesnake. Let me grab him for y'all.’” Richard La Biche, safety officer for ESD No. 5, said.

“They were just totally amazed that this 9-year-old kid was so educated in snakes,” Eaton said. “He could give my lectures. He’s been to so many of them.”

READ MORE: Man, grandson recover after vicious I-35 crash destroys snake equipment

Kuykendall said he just loves snakes and even breeds corn snakes for sale. His grandfather said his youngest grandson just has a passion for them, and responding units to the crash site that morning remain grateful for that.

“This kid knows more than we'd ever get to know about snakes,” La Biche said.

Kuykendall received a plaque and special “Reptile Wrangler” T-shirt during the ceremony at Somerset Fire Station.