Gary Evans, 56, went to Magnolia Beach in Texas to go crabbing, which is when he contracted the rare illness, reported Houston news outlet KHOU.
That was on the Fourth of July. Two days later, he was unable to walk before doctors diagnosed him with flesh-eating bacteria, the station reported.
“He was in his element there … around everything he loved most – his friends, his family, his crabbing on the water,” said his wife, Debbie Mattix, 60. “But on Saturday morning, he couldn’t walk. That is how quick it hit.” https://t.co/EKrjb6Psz8
— Victoria Advocate (@Vicadvocate) July 13, 2019
This year, there have been a number of attention-grabbing headlines about beach-goers contracting the bacteria in and around the waters of the Gulf.
Debbie Mattix, his 60-year-old wife, is now questioning how he was able to get the illness despite not swimming.
“His hat fell off into the water a couple of times, and he picked it up, and you just laugh about it, and he put it back on his head, was that it?” Mattix told the news station.
She then asked: “Was that the entryway then? I don’t know. Could it have been when he pulled the crab traps out of the water and the breeze, some of the water sprinkled on him then? But to say we floated out in the water, no. We never got in the water.”
She said that the bacteria acted quickly, adding that she believes it was Vibrio, which is found in raw and undercooked shellfish. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “vibriosis” can occur when an open wound is exposed to brackish water or saltwater.
“He was in his element there … around everything he loved most—his friends, his family, his crabbing on the water,” Mattix added to the Victoria Advocate. “But on Saturday morning, he couldn’t walk. That is how quick it hit.”
His feet and legs were severely swollen, she told the newspaper. Mattix then drove her husband to the hospital but didn’t suspect flesh-eating bacteria.
“We got there and they let me know he wasn’t going home; he was going straight into ICU,” Evans told the Advocate. “Doctors started treating him for Vibrio, but it wasn’t confirmed until the next day; that is when they said it started manifesting itself.”
Doctors then gave him antibiotics, painkillers, and fluids. Then, large blisters appeared on his legs before doctors took him for surgery.
“They did everything they could do,” Mattix told the publication. “He was very, very sick, and it ended up beating him. It spread into his liver, his kidneys and he was on a respirator. It also got into his blood system and started collapsing his veins.”
Mattix said that Evans was in good health, adding that he always helped others in need, including when Hurricane Harvey slammed Houston.
Evans died on July 8, and Mattix created a GoFundMe to raise money for his funeral. “Gary was out there with his chainsaw, all over the neighborhood, just doing,” she said, referring to his efforts in the aftermath of Harvey. “He was always doing something.”
Mattix also said she hopes her husband’s death will shine more light on the bacteria.
“This bacteria is a lot worse than people really think it is,” Mattix told the Advocate. “It is not a bacteria that is easily contained; it comes in with vengeance, and it is relentless, just, like, destroying everything in its path.”
According to People magazine, Evans was a father of six children.