MONROE, Ga. — Ryan Franklin was driving back to college Sunday when he encountered a damsel in distress and stepped up to do battle with the threatening dragon … or snapping turtle, at least.
Franklin, a Walton County resident who is currently enrolled as a sophomore at Augusta University, was on his way back to Augusta for classes this week when he happened to see a young woman in the road dealing with a recalcitrant reptile near the Walton-Newton county line.
“I saw a girl about my age who was approaching a snapping turtle,” Franklin said. “I guess she wanted to try and get it out of the road.”
Franklin slowed his vehicle as he approached, curious as to how she would handle the large specimen on hand.
“It was probably a 55-to-60-pound turtle,” Franklin said. “It was huge, probably the biggest turtle I’d ever seen.”
Intent on her good deed, the woman reached down to pick up the turtle when disaster struck.
“I could see her trying to pick him up behind the front legs,” Franklin said. “But snapping turtles can extend their necks almost half the length of their bodies. This turtle turned his head and just latched on to her left forearm.”
The startled good Samaritan screamed as the turtle sank his beaked mouth into her arm and hung on. Franklin, knowing snapping turtles persist in their bites unless otherwise discouraged, had already pulled over to lend any assistance.
“I could tell she was in pain,” Franklin said. “She was screaming and there was blood coming from the bite.”
Franklin, though, was not unprepared. He had two things on hand that many others might not: knowledge and supplies.
The supplies were courtesy of a gift from his grandfather, still stored safely away in his vehicle.
“My granddad got me a first aid kit a while back and I had it in the car,” Franklin said. “I’d never used it, but it was there when I needed it.”
That time had come, as Franklin discovered exactly what he needed within: a bottle of rubbing alcohol.
“I was fascinated with wildlife as a teenager and would watch videos on YouTube all the time,” Franklin said. “I wanted to know about them if I ever encountered them in the wild.”
Now he was face to face with a snapping turtle and he brought his chosen weapon to battle, just as a YouTube video had demonstrated to him: He dumped the entire bottle of rubbing alcohol right over the turtle’s head.
“I’d seen that the snapping turtle would open its mouth if you did that, and it worked,” Franklin said. “Once he let go, I grabbed him by his shell and got him off the road and away from us. Then I used the first aid kit to wrap her wound with a gauze bandage and waited with her until the paramedics arrived.”
For Franklin, that was the end of the story. Throughout the entire ordeal, he and the young woman never exchanged names, so he has no way to discover her condition now.
“I do hope she’s OK,” Franklin said. “I’d never seen anything like it.”