Image Credit: Peggy Jones

Peggy Jones didn't sense the danger hovering in the sky above on July 25 as she rode a tractor and mowed her family's six-acre property in Silsbee, Tex.

Around 8 p.m., some three hours into the chore, a snake fell from the sky and quickly wrapped itself around her right forearm. Within seconds, she was attacked again, this time by a hawk determined to reclaim the prey it had just fumbled.

With the snake coiled around Jones's forearm, the hawk stabbed and scraped and clawed her arm as it tried to fly off with its quarry. All the while, the snake, which she estimated was at least four feet long, was constantly striking at her face. It hit her glasses at least a couple of times, chipping an edge and spitting a liquid she suspects was venom.

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The brown-and-white hawk briefly relented, hovering a few feet overhead before swooping down again to try to wrest the snake from Jones. She said the bird did this about four times, increasing the intensity with each attack.

"I'm screaming during this whole time, 'Help me, Jesus! Please, help me, Jesus!'" she said.

Finally, the hawk wrestled the snake off her arm and flew away. Jones estimates the attack lasted a few seconds, although "it felt like an eternity."

Jones, 64, took off on the tractor, racing toward the house while screaming. Her husband, Wendell, who had just finished mowing the front of the property, heard his wife "screaming hysterically" as she zigzagged toward him and flailed her bloodied arm.

He headed toward her on his riding mower. When Wendell, 66, got to her and asked what happened, all she could do was cry and scream. The two power walked to their Dodge Ram pickup. Wendell loaded her in, and they drove to an emergency room about 15 minutes away. Calming down, she started to tell her husband what happened.

He was in disbelief.

"I'm thinking she's still in hysterics," Wendell said.

Once they arrived at the hospital, doctors cleaned out Jones's wounds, bandaged her up, injected her with antibiotics and wrote her a prescription for more to take at home. Having seen puncture marks in her arm, Jones and her husband thought the snake had bitten her. But doctors told her they thought those were actually stab wounds that the hawk had made with its talons.

Still, the Joneses spent that first night watching for her arm to swell up or turn black. They knew what to look for. Two years ago, a venomous snake had bitten Jones while she was clearing another property so they could build a house on it. It took her weeks to recover.

Although she still has extensive bruising and open wounds from last month's attack, her physical injuries are healing. The psychological ones are taking longer. She's eating less. She's not sleeping. She described her nightmares from the past couple of weeks as "horrific."

"Everything is off," Jones said, adding that she doesn't "think it'll ever be totally normal again. I think I'll always have some fears."

"It's probably been the most terrifying thing that's ever happened in my life," she said.

Because of the psychological toll, she's taking a break from mowing. She's also not supposed to do anything that might get sweat or dirt in her wounds because of the increased risk of infection.

Jones has identified one silver lining in the attack: She's off dishes duty for the foreseeable future. Wendell has insisted on having her rest. "Which I'm okay with," she said with a laugh.

Jones is also grateful that a bad situation didn't turn out worse. While the hawk did most of the damage, she believes it saved her from the snake. Unchecked by a predator, it might have bitten her - it certainly tried to. They're not sure what kind of snake it was or whether it was venomous.

"It was a very bizarre, harrowing experience," she said. "And I just thank God I'm alive to still tell about it."