British backpacker asked 'will I be alright?' moments before dying from snake bite

27 November 2019, 18:05

Harry Evans died after being bitten by a sea snake in Australia
Harry Evans died after being bitten by a sea snake in Australia. Picture: Facebook
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A British backpacker who was bitten by a sea snake asked "will I be alright?" just before he died, an inquest has heard.

Harry Evans, 23, was working on a prawn trawler in northern Australia when he was bitten on the finger by what was thought to be a black-banded sea snake.

Mr Evans, from Poole in Dorset, was sailing in the Gulf of Carpentaria, northeast of Bing Bong in the state of Northern Territory, on 4 October last year.

He was folding nets when he was bitten and was not wearing gloves, which the inquest was told was not uncommon for fisherman.

Mr Evans was bitten at around 8:30am and reportedly asked first mate Chad Hastings the heartbreaking question shortly before losing consciousness.

Black-banded sea snakes are found in waters in the Pacific Ocean
Black-banded sea snakes are found in waters in the Pacific Ocean. Picture: Getty

"He (Mr Evans) asked me 'will I be alright' and I was unsure but I was trying to calm him down so I said 'you'll be fine'," Mr Hastings told the inquest on Tuesday.

The young Brit became just the second person in history to die from a sea snake bite, with the last and only other death recorded 85 years ago.

Mr Hastings added he only realised how deadly the snake could be when he searched for Mr Evans' symptoms online.

The skipper of the trawler, Nicholas Huard, called for help and said he applied a compression bandage to the Brit's wound.

He began convulsing uncontrollably after treatment and had lost consciousness by the time medical staff had arrived six hours later.

However, ABC News reported that he told the inquest there was confusion over where to go after speaking with emergency services.

Mr Evans was sailing in the Gulf of Carpentaria
Mr Evans was sailing in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Picture: Google

"Instructions weren't really clear until I said on the phone 'where am I going, Groote or Bing Bong?' and they said 'Bing Bong'," Mr Huard explained.

"I travelled roughly an hour north in the wrong way."

A pathology report that was read out in court stated that it would not have made a difference to Mr Evans' chance of survival.

Sharon Evans, Harry's mother, said her son's future had been "stolen away" from him in a statement submitted to the coroner.

"I have lost one of the two most important things in my life, my reason for everything and my purpose," it read.

"George has lost his twin, his best friends, his constant companion who should have been there for life."

Ms Evans said that Harry had been "living his dream" prior to his death, whilst working aboard the vessel.

The inquest continued throughout the day on Wednesday.