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Posted by W von Papinešu on December 17, 2002 at 13:59:38:
VENTURA COUNTY STAR (California) 17 December 02 Snakebite victim confronts his fear - Simi man handles diamondback for reality TV show (Staci Haight)
After a near-death encounter with a rattlesnake six months ago, one would think Bruce Kanegai would steer clear of rattlers.
But not this 50-year-old Simi Valley High School art instructor, who recently returned from Texas, where he filmed an episode of "Worst-Case Scenario." The show features experts who describe how to survive dozens of extreme situations, volunteers who throw themselves in harm's way, and survival instructors who square off with one another in elaborate challenges.
Kanegai filmed a segment called "Volunteer Challenge," in which he had to face his worst fear -- a fear of rattlesnakes. His challenge was to handle a diamondback rattler, one of the largest and most dangerous rattlesnakes in the world.
Kanegai said television producers asked him to appear on the show, which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on TBS, to re-create an incident he had earlier with a rattlesnake while golfing with friends at Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley.
The rattlesnake confrontation caused Kanegai, the first rattlesnake victim at the 2-year-old golf club, to be laid up in intensive care for a week before beginning physical therapy to regain full use of his leg and muscles.
The snakebite was just the latest in a series of events over the past 25 years in which Kanegai has walked through a glass door, split open his head while surfing, suffered serious injuries in a car crash in Austria and had a boulder come crashing down on him.
Producers had read about the snake encounter in a newspaper and invited Kanegai to travel to Texas to Bob Popplewell's Bayou Bob's Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch so that he also could handle a diamondback.
"I felt that if I didn't face this (fear) I would have this mental block in improving my life," Kanegai said.
For the segment, scheduled to air in February or March, Kanegai first walked into a room where barrels of about 400 rattlesnakes were stored. He then was taken outside to handle a variety of snakes, working his way up to the diamondback.
The trip actually helped Kanegai accomplish a goal he set for himself nearly 40 years ago.
"When I was 14 or 15 I wrote that I wanted to milk a rattlesnake and wrestle a crocodile," Kanegai said. He wrestled the croc years ago on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
His wife, Nancy, was less than eager for her husband to partake in the Texas adventure, especially so soon after the rattlesnake bite.
"I didn't think it was a good idea. I saw him the first time after the rattlesnake bit him," Nancy Kanegai said.
With his heart pounding, Kanegai described his confrontation with the diamondback as "very, very intense."
"I love daring adventures," Kanegai said. "If life's not an adventure, it's nothing at all."