A Dose of Disastrous Developments

By CodingStrategies on July 12th, 2018

The man was slowly riding a motorcycle through a quiet residential neighborhood. As he passed an oncoming car, something brown and furry flew out from under it and rolled to a stop in front of the motorcycle. It was a squirrel that had apparently been trying to run across the road when it encountered first the car, and now a motorcycle. With no time to avoid the animal, the motorcyclist braced for impact only to find that the squirrel had let out a shriek and leaped toward the bike. Momentum carried him over the motorcycle windshield to land squarely on the chest of the driver. Pushed beyond the limits of endurance, the squired proceeded to snarl, hiss and tear at the motorcyclist’s clothes. The small fur covered tornado hurled the slow-moving motorcyclist into the fight of his life. In an effort to rid himself of the angry rodent the driver grabbed the squirrel by the tail, planning to fling him into a neighborhood yard.

However, at the moment of release, the squirrel seized the closest gloved finger and, taking the glove with him, swung around behind the driver to land on his back. The raging rodent was not any happier in this position and resumed his attack on the back of the driver’s T-shirt. Both man and squirrel screamed, the motorcycle accelerating rapidly down the quiet street as the biker tried desperately to dislodge the demonic squirrel of death. Whether due to the increase in pace or simply general malice, the squirrel decided to shift back around to the front of the suffering human and slide inside the full-face helmet. Picture now a large man on a touring bike, with a very ragged torn and bloody T-shirt, wearing only one leather glove and sporting a large, fluffy squirrel tail sticking out below the full-face helmet. [ICD-10-CM code W53.21XA, Bitten by squirrel, initial encounter + code Y92.414, Local residential street as the place of occurrence of the external cause]

But, even the ghastliest experience comes to an end – sort of. The biker finally managed to again seize the squirrel by the tail, pull him out of the helmet and throw him as far as possible: into a parked police car that had its windows down while the occupants completed paperwork. There was more screaming as both officers exited the car, leaving the doors wide open as shredded upholstery and foam flew from the backseat. The biker escaped to buy band aids and a new pair of gloves, and the squirrel? Apparently, he now has a patrol car all to himself. [Thanks to Skooter Rob]

In July 2017, a 19-year-old Colorado man was awaked by a crunching sound and serious pain as a bear bit down on his head while he was sleeping and started dragging him across the ground. Dylan McWilliams received 9 staples in his scalp after a nearly 300-pound black bear invaded his campsite [code W55.81XA, Bitten by other mammals, initial encounter + code Y92.821, Forest as place of occurrence of the external cause]. According to Dylan, the bear grabbed the back of his head and pulled him about 12 feet from his sleeping bag; he fought back by poking at the bear’s eyes and punching it in the nose, causing the ursine beast to drop him and stomp on him a couple of times. Dylan was a staff member at a children’s mountain camp in Boulder County and after he escaped from the bear, the group of campers was able to chase the bear away. The odds of being injured by a bear are 1 in 2.1 million, and only 14 people were killed by bears in the lower 48 states between 1900 and 2009.

But wait, there’s more: Approximately two years before the bear tried to snack on Dylan, he had an up close and personal encounter with a rattlesnake while he was hiking in Moab, Utah. Fortunately, he only received a small amount of venom from the “dry bite,” so he was only briefly ill afterward and didn’t even go to the hospital (code T63.011A, Toxic effect of rattlesnake venom, accidental, initial encounter + code Y92.820, Desert as the place of occurrence of the external cause]. The odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the US are estimated at 1 in 37,500; for perspective, the odds of being killed in a car accident are 1 in 112.

But wait, there’s still more: During a backpacking trip in April 2018, Dylan was body boarding off the island of Kauai, Hawaii and was knocked off his board by a wave in 15 feet of water about 30 yards from the shore. He felt something hit his leg, and an intense pain in his calf. When he looked down, he saw a 6 to 8 foot shark swimming beneath him, and a significant amount of blood in the water. Dylan said he kicked at the shark and believes he connected with it at least once. He then launched into a desperate swim to shore, afraid the shark would try to follow him. Once on the beach, bystanders helped him get to an urgent care center for treatment.

The deep cuts in his leg were not life-threatening but required seven stitches. The bite pattern indicated it was most likely a tiger shark [code W56.41XA, Bitten by shark, initial encounter + code Y92.832, Beach as the place of occurrence of the external cause]. Ocean Safety officials closed Keoneloa Bay briefly after the incident, but the shark was not spotted again. Although shark attacks happen occasionally in Hawaii, and tiger sharks are the most likely culprit, the odds of being attacked by a shark in US waters is 1 in 11.5 million. For perspective, the average American has about a 1 in 5000 chances of being struck by lightning during a lifetime.

Although Dylan was bitten by a bear, a rattlesnake and a shark in a period of just over 3 years, his love for the great outdoors remains unshaken. According to Dylan it is important to respect animals, and he is not afraid of hiking, sleeping outdoors or surfing. He adds that he must just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that his parents are grateful he is still alive. Statisticians state he is one of the unluckiest (or luckiest) guys on the planet; multiplying the odds of each independent event together, the likelihood of Dylan’s animal attack trifecta are 893.35 quadrillion to 1. Maybe Dylan should buy a lottery ticket.