David Giles knew snakes. He was trained as a forester. He had lived and worked near remote areas, so he knew snakes.

He carried a snakebite kit in his vehicle.

“He knows the woods,” said his mother, Jane Giles of Watkinsville. “I don’t know if there is anyone who knows any more about snakes and their habits than he knew. He knew to respect them.”

But Giles, 59, of Watkinsville, died Monday from a snakebite.

Giles had been living with his mother, Jane, for about four years since he had contracted Lyme disease. She believes that his system might have been compromised already by his illness, compounding the effects of the venom.

Giles was on Bullock Road in Oglethorpe County Sunday evening. He had gone to water some plants for his sister, who was out of town. Rather than drive his own vehicle, with the snakebite kit, he drove his mother’s car.

Exactly what happened is speculation because Giles was alone. It appears that he had at least turned on the water hose, because it was still running Tuesday when someone returned to the scene. There was some loose lumber at the site. Perhaps the snake was there, or under the house.

“It’s a lovely old home, built in the late 1700s,” Jane Giles said. “It is totally surrounded by forest.”

Emergency-room physicians told the family that they guessed that it was a rattlesnake bite, based on the size of the bite marks on his right hand. Giles was wearing a glove when the snake bit him.

He drove himself about a mile to a nearby house where he practically fell out of the truck. He managed to tell someone, “I have been snakebit.”

Jane Giles said her son never regained consciousness after that.

She said he son had not been in the best of health since a relapse from Lyme disease. She said he had a forestry degree from the University of Georgia. He had also worked as a computer technician. He worked for real estate companies in Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina, and in and around Clayton. He was a volunteer firefighter and a first responder.

Funeral services will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lord & Stephens West. Visitation will be at 1 p.m.

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