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by Mike Masterson | July 11, 2021 at 1:45 a.m.

It was a summer's afternoon more than a decade ago; 22-year-old Frankie McCroskey had grabbed his spinning rod and headed for a stream south of Springfield where he planned to enjoy tranquil hours wade-fishing.

After casting a while, he felt a sharp pain on the rear of his exposed right leg. Assuming he'd been stung by a wasp, he happened to look over moments later to see a cottonmouth slithering away into deeper water.

The realization of what had happened sent fear racing through his mind. "I've been snake-bit," he thought. "OK, don't panic. Stay calm. I need to get help quickly. But where?"

He waded ashore and started walking toward his truck, already feeling lightheaded and disoriented.

Hearing the drone of traffic along U.S. 65 toward Harrison in the distance, he turned and began heading across several fields toward the highway. It was his closest possible contact with others.

As he walked, things around him took on a purplish hue. He worried he'd never make it, perhaps dropping instead in a field alone, not to be found for days or longer, maybe even to succumb.

But he did arrive at the highway several minutes later, where he collapsed along the shoulder in front of a passing motorist.

To Frankie's great fortune, he'd fallen before a man who cared enough to pull aside. The Good Samaritan helped the young man into his car without knowing why he was now incoherent and barely conscious.

Then the man (let's call him an angel) rushed to the nearest emergency room where a nurse took one look and declared Frankie likely had overdosed on drugs. Accordingly, she began preparing a shot of adrenaline, which could have caused Frankie's bloodstream to surge even more rapidly, likely seriously worsening an already-precarious condition.

Just beforehand, the Samaritan from the highway (who'd decided to hang around) caught a glimpse of the puncture wounds and called them to the medical staff's attention.

Suddenly everything changed. The race was on to the identify the type of snake involved and apply the correct antivenin shot that hopefully could stop the damage the venom was causing.

Frankie ultimately recovered without ever knowing who his angel from the interstate had been.

Yet the way the scenario had played out, it was apparent to the young man the stars in the heavens had aligned perfectly to save him.

First, had he not seen the snake, he likely could have stayed in the water believing he'd been stung until collapsing in the creek.

Secondly, he could have fallen at any time during his trek to the highway to lie alone and undiscovered in an overgrown field.

Then he happened to have dropped to the shoulder in front of a motorist willing to pause from his own daily demands to stop and help a stranger.

At the hospital, this same savior may well have saved Frankie by spotting the fang wounds and halting the initial plans to administer adrenaline.

All in all, this certainly fits my definition of God nodding toward Frankie to make sure he survived the harrowing experience. Cynics and skeptics may disagree, which is their prerogative.

But Frankie would disagree that the events were all simply coincidence. And, after all, he's the one who survived the experience and realizes all the pieces that had to have fallen into place to save him.

Have your own GodNod to share? Please email me.

Water-pistol bandit

I wonder how many of you were as pleased as I was the other day to see our governor do the right thing by commuting the life sentence of a man who'd spent 40 years behind bars for aggravated robbery after holding up a Fort Smith taco stand with a water pistol in 1981.

Even the victim, who risked being soaked when Rolf D. Kaestel pointed a water pistol at him as he handed over less than $300, said he favored Kaestel's release, as did the prosecutor.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson decided to commute the sentence of the now 70-year-old man who'd previously been denied commutation despite having a clean prison record.

In fairness to the system, one news account said Kaestel had been handed the life sentence based on previous criminal convictions.

While that helps explain such gross overkill on the water-gun sentence, it still shows the importance of fairness by issuing sentences that match the specific crime under consideration.

After hearing the good news, Kaestel said he hopes to use his remaining years of freedom to try and make the world a better place.

Social Security trap?

Admittedly no economist, I find myself wondering, as $15 an hour becomes the norm for minimum wage and businesses raise their prices to meet this figure for employees, where does that leave those drawing fixed Social Security payments?

For instance, doesn't the burger that once cost $2.50 and is now $3.25 because of the raise in minimum wage still cost those on limited Social Security $3.25?

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

Print Headline: Snake-bite savior


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