The unfortunate mom told local news outlets that she initially thought her 3-year-old son, Kristoff, was stung by an insect. But, when she took a closer look and noticed that his body turning blue, she realized she made a terrible mistake. The mother, Elizabeth, said that after spending hours outside barefoot, Kristoff came running to her, tears streaming down his face. She didn’t think it would be anything too serious initially and never imagined that she was about to face one of the most dramatic events that she had ever experienced.

She and her boys were visiting family, recalling the day her life was turned upside down. “Then, Kristoff began to cry a little and climbed onto my lap. We thought he had been stung by a wasp or scratched himself on a branch,” she explained. He had stepped on something alright, and it was wildlife too — but it was far worse than a wasp. She’d soon realize he hadn’t been stung, but rather, bitten. Fifteen minutes after a crying Kristoff crawled onto his mother’s lap, his foot began to swell and turn blue. That’s when Elizabeth quickly called emergency services. “The ambulance and helicopter arrived quickly. They kept saying it was a viper snake bite, and we were transported to a hospital,” Elizabeth relayed.

Kristoff was promptly given antivenom and initially began to show signs of improvement, but then, he suddenly took a turn for the worst. He had begun to bleed internally from his intestines, and what started as some bruising on his foot and ankle was about to spread to the rest of his body as practically all of him turned blue and appeared bruised. When doctors measured Kristoff’s blood volume, it was less than half of what it should have been, and he had quickly lost weight, going from 44 pounds down to 33. He was in a fight for his life, all because of a simple mistake. It took nearly two weeks of being hospitalized, but thankfully, Kristoff was eventually well enough to go home.

He survived, but his battle was extremely difficult, as the picture below shows. Now, his story is serving as a warning for others. While the response to the viper’s bite can vary, children typically are most vulnerable and at risk for deadly reactions. This goes for all venomous snakes, not just vipers, so know which ones are prevalent where you live. The experts say that all snakes are much more active during warmer weather when more people are also out in nature. Therefore, there’s a greater chance of encountering one. So, it’s important to wear shoes outside, especially for kids who are playing and not necessarily watching where they are walking.