Published August 30, 2007
Mrs. Tennessee was bitten by a rattlesnake on the way to rehearsals for the Mrs. America pageant — and was treated on the scene by one of her competitors for the crown, Mrs. Iowa.
Christina Ryan, 28, was leaving a breakfast Sunday at the Loews Ventana Canyon Hotel in Tucson, Ariz., when the wily serpent — coiled at the bottom of some concrete steps — struck, biting her on the foot, according to The Tennessean newspaper.
Luckily, Mrs. Iowa — nurse Taryn Schuyler, 30 — was with her and was able to extract the snake’s fang from Ryan’s skin.
“I guess he bit me and let go,” Ryan told The Tennessean. “I ran up the stairs and became totally hysterical … It hurt worse than childbirth.”
Paramedics were on the scene in less than five minutes, according to The Tennessean.
Ryan, an event planner with an 18-month-old daughter, spent the night in the intensive care unit at Tucson Medical Center, where she received about 10 vials of anti-venom medication and was watched closely, the newspaper reported.
She was recovering back at the hotel Monday.
"I'll just go back and do as much as I can and as often as I can with the contestants. I just have a swollen foot and anti-venom in me,” Ryan said.
The beauty queen apparently didn’t see the rattler because it was coiled at the foot of the stairs and blended in with the concrete.
The whole ordeal threw a wrench into preparations for the Mrs. America show.
"Rehearsal was postponed due to Mrs. Tennessee getting struck by a rattlesnake," wrote Mrs. Idaho, Lauralyn Salinas, on her blog on Sunday, where she posted photos of the viper. "It was right by the entrance to our rehearsal. She is going to be fine, but was taken to the hospital just to be sure. Very Scary! Rehearsal will be a different location today. Our thoughts are with her for a quick recovery."
As for whether the snake was planted there in a “Miss Congeniality” sort of plot to rig the upcoming pageant — which unlike Miss America is for married women — the executive director of the Mrs. Tennessee America Pageant said she didn’t think that was the case.
"I would certainly hope not," Delayna Bridges told the newspaper, laughing. "Mrs. Arizona won Mrs. America last year, so, hopefully, they are feeling pretty happy right now and not feeling the need to sabotage our girl."
The pageant airs from Tucson at 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and is co-hosted by TV and Broadway star Alan Thicke and by fired "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Stallworth.