A guy claims he was bitten by a snake in Wal-Mart. The store's management insists on sending him to the hospital for treatment. Then the guy is charged with "stealing" services from the hospital. What are they smoking down in Brownwood?
Here's the brief Associated Press article Evidently this all took place September 29, 2003
Man bitten by rattler while shopping at Wal-Mart
BROWNWOOD, Texas -- Police say a man was bitten by a rattlesnake while shopping for shoes in a Wal-Mart store in Texas.
Douglas Hatchett of Brownwood was examining shoes on a rack when a rattlesnake concealed behind a shoebox bit him yesterday. The snake fell to the floor, where Hatchett stomped it to death. Police, fire and emergency medical crews were called to the scene. The 31-year-old shopper and the dead snake were hustled to Brownwood Regional Medical Center. There, the snake was confirmed as a rattler, and Hatchett was treated and released.
Wal-Mart officials say the matter's being investigated and they have no comment.
KATV news, in Little Rock, adds more details on four days later, on October 3, in a story titled Man Says Wal-Mart Should Pay Medical Bills After Snake Bite . Evidently Mr. Hatchett is a self-employed carpenter living in the thriving metropolis of Bangs, Texas, which is located not far from Brownwood. Hatchett said that he did not want to go to the hospital--wait, you've been bitten by a snake and you don't want to go to the hospital?
[Hatchett]said someone from management arrived with the kit and insisted on calling an ambulance. Hatchett said he did not want to go to the hospital but did and was released Monday night.
Firefighters arrived and found a small dead rattlesnake in a box.
For some reason Wal-Mart officials were suspicious of this claim, and are investigating by talking to ambulance workers and other witnesses and reviewing store security tapes.
But wait, it gets weirder again.
Report claims snake bite never happened Brownwood Regional Medical Center officials do not believe a man was bitten by a rattlesnake Monday as he claimed and say the man stole more than $15,000 in medical services from the hospital, Brownwood police said.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. $15,000 to treat a snakebite? One day at the ER? What is going on here??
Evidently someone at the hospital called the police to file an offense report. It was filed by police corporal . Mitch Slaymaker (what a name, eh?)
Slaymaker wrote in his report that he spoke with Cindy Orr, the hospital's director of risk management, Thursday afternoon. She told Slaymaker a patient arrived at the emergency room Monday and was treated briefly at the hospital. Hatchett was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and released Monday night.
"It is the contention of (the hospital) that the subject was not bitten by the snake and that their services were stolen by him," Slaymaker's report states.
"There are just too many inconsistencies for us and too many things that just don't add up," Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said from corporate offices in Bentonville, Ark. "We continue to look at it. We do have some concerns where things don't add up as they were told by the individual.
"It's just an issue that's fraught with a lot of inconsistencies."
Hatchett has maintained in interviews with the Bulletin that he was bitten.
Evidently the guy's being charged with a crime:
Man in snakebite incident has attorney>
Shane Britton is the Brown County attorney (like a DA, I guess), who will decide if charges (false alarm, theft and other criems) should be filed against Hatchett. Landon Northcutt is the attorney Douglas Hatchett retained to represent him, if he is charged with a crime.
Hatchett, who was released from the hospital a few hours after being taken there, has said he was given anti-venom treatment, as well as antibiotic and steroid shots.
When asked why doctors would administer anti-venom if, in fact, they didn't believe Hatchett was bitten, [hospital spokesman] Lancaster said, "When someone comes in and presents themselves to the emergency room, we're going to treat them for the symptoms (presented). We're going to take the cautious side."
I can't figure this out. Was Hatchett trying to run a scam, and got caught out? Why did the hospital file a criminal report? Why did treatment for a few hours cost $15,000? All very confusing.