A rattlesnake wrangler performing near Corpus Christi, Texas was killed on Saturday after being bitten by one of the snakes he was handling and succumbing to the injuries incurred during the performance.

Eugene De Leon Sr., a 60-year-old man who has worked as a handler of snakes for over 20 years, was killed during the Rattlesnake Roundup in Freer, Texas, where he was bitten in the shoulder by the rattlesnake that he was handling, according to the New York Post.

De Leon died over eight hours after being bitten, and he was in front of an audience when he incurred the injury. The man was well-known in his community for his snake-handling skills, which regularly appeared in local wildlife shows and other annual festivals in the area.

“The love and dedication he displayed for his community was witnessed every day from being a member of the Freer [Volunteer] Fire Department to being a call away for local residents to assist with removing snakes from their property,” the Freer Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

Monica Dimas, De Leon’s sister, posted about his death online, eulogizing about his love for snakes as well as his passion for the reptiles and for the community in general, My San Antonio reported.

“He had a passion for snake handling at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Freer,” Dimas said. “After many years of handling these things, today was not your day with them … Rest in Peace my brother.”

Sandra Whitten, a Republican running to represent Texas in Congress, also commemorated De Leon’s death publicly, reminiscing about seeing his Rattlesnake Roundup shows every year.

“My family and I enjoyed watching him handle these deadly snakes with ease, almost like he was simply dancing with them,” Whitten said. “He had a smile on his face and clearly joy in his heart. Pray for his family and friends as they mourn his loss. Our community won’t be the same without him.”

Well-known local Texan snake handler Eugene De Leon, Sr. was killed on Saturday after getting bitten by a snake in a shoulder, and succumbing to the injury over eight hours later. This is a representational image. Cody Nottingham/Unsplash.

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