Young star football player Keith Pierce had no idea his 10th birthday would be his last. He celebrated with friends and family without a care in the world. But just one month and four days after his birthday celebration, tragedy struck the Pierce family.
The young Montana fourth-grader passed away just nine days after being bitten on the leg by a brown recluse spider, one of the most venomous spiders in the United States.
Keith was a student at Three Forks District School in Montana. After noticing that his leg was swelling up after a football game, Keith’s parents took him to Bozeman Deconess Hospital, reported the Daily Mail. Doctors ruled out a number of serious possibilities and sent the young boy home.
But his symptoms worsened. The 10-year-old, by now in serious discomfort, was rushed to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, where he underwent emergency surgery. The little boy never woke up.
Keith’s heartbroken parents, reeling from their sudden loss, made the hardest decision of their lives. They consented to having their son’s life support switched off. Their boy was unable to fight for his life any longer, and they had to let him go.
2 years ago today this was the start of a major life change we never saw coming. Our little man taken away just 3 days…
The tragedy demanded a forensic examination. Doctors determined Keith’s cause of death as “severe sepsis due to complications of a spider bite,” NBC Montana explained. In Keith’s case, it was the venom of a brown recluse spider that took his young life.
Keith, one of three siblings, left a hole in his devastated family and also in the two sports teams he had played for at school. The Three Forks District School’s wrestling and football teams were shocked and saddened by their loss.
A Facebook page named “Remembering Keith Pierce” was set up for the friends and family of the young man to leave their thoughts and best wishes.
Three Forks coach Wayne Hawkins was quick to add his own fond memories. “I so enjoyed coaching Keith,” he wrote. “He was an amazing young man who was a true joy to be around.”
When Alicia Clark, a long-term friend of Keith’s mom, Mandy, learned that Keith had passed away, she wanted to contribute more than just her condolences.
“We were not sure if they had any kind of medical insurance,” Clark told ABC Fox Montana, “and even with medical insurance there is so much—funeral expenses are so expensive—so we thought we would try an online fundraiser.”
A GoFundMe page set up for the Pierce family raised $1,000 more than its $10,000 goal.
Keith’s legacy is a message from a bright spirit to do what you love best; Keith did, until the end of his young life. But his tragic death is also a cautionary tale, and one that we can learn from. Do you know what a brown recluse spider bite looks like?
Brown recluse spider venom is potentially fatal. Brown or gray in color, the brown recluse spider measures between 6 and 20 millimeters in length with a black stripe running down the length of its back. They often spin their webs in sheds, closets, garages, and other dark, damp places.
Keith’s unwitting encounter with a brown recluse spider ended in tragedy. Keep your loved ones safe, and keep Keith’s spirit alive, by sharing this information with the people you hold dearest.