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Yeppoon worker dies after being bitten by Taipan

Darren Patterson

AN ERGON Energy employee died almost instantly after being bitten by a deadly snake while out on a job in central Queensland.

Yeppoon crew leader Andrew Vaughan was working his way through dense bushland on Friday with a backhoe operator trying to beat a path to a pole that needed maintenance work.

During the work, Mr Vaughan lost contact with the crew, who raised the alarm as soon as they realised, according to an internal email sent out to Ergon Energy staff by operations executive general manager Peter Billing, who called the death "tragic".

Mr Vaughan was already dead by the time he was found after a huge search by the police, SES volunteers and Ergon Energy employees.

It has been confirmed by Ergon Energy he died from a Taipan snake bite, Brisbane Times reported.

Meanwhile, in Mackay, a man has told of killing a taipan, saying he had no choice  after the coastal taipan reared up to its full height and prepared to strike.

"He was going to have me and I thought I'm better off having you," Ron Lean, of Pleystowe told the Daily Mercury.

With no other option, Mr Lean grabbed a piece of nearby fencing wire and struck the snake on the head, killing it instantly.

While it is an offence to kill, injure or take snakes from the wild, there are exceptions made for cases like Mr Lean's.

Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection manager wildlife operations Mike Devery said if a person was defending themselves from a venomous snake and there was no other option, a defence is available under the Queensland Criminal Code for acts done in extraordinary circumstances.

"If the department was investigating an incident, it would consider the circumstances under which a snake was killed," Mr Devery said.

Mr Lean said he and his wife Jo had just returned home on Friday night and were sitting in their car in the driveway when they noticed the snake lying near a frog pond.

"I hopped out of the car to have a look at him," Mr Lean said. "I was three metres away or more and he stood right up in the air, nearly his full height.

"He was definitely about to strike me, no two ways about it."

The Leans used a snake identification book to confirm it was a taipan, and not a more common eastern brown.

Topics:  death, ergon energy, snake bite, taipan


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