Huntsville cowboy nearly dies from flesh-eating bacteria


by Vicente Arenas / KHOU 11 News

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Updated Thursday, May 17 at 11:14 AM

HOUSTON—Cowboys are some of the toughest guys in the world. Ricky Oliver, who ropes calves near Huntsville, is one of them. But mention flesh-eating bacteria, and you can watch the cowboy cringe.

"I’m terrified," he said.

The bacteria attacked Oliver’s left arm five years ago, and the 52-year-old man nearly died.

"I didn’t know if he was going to make it or not," said his wife, Shannon.

KHOU 11 News spoke to the Olivers at their ranch near Huntsville.

We wanted to see how he was doing, after the bacteria made headlines again.

A woman in Georgia has lost a leg to the bacteria and is fighting for her life.

"Every story I hear brings back memories," Oliver said.

He spent weeks in the hospital and said his pain was unimaginable.

Oliver said he believes he got the bacteria after a thorn pricked him during a hunting trip in South Texas.

"There was so much fear... not knowing if he was going to have his arm or not," his wife said.

Doctors were able to stop the bacteria from spreading and saved his arm.

Oliver was back on his horse five months later.

He said, while his scars run deep, there is no longer any pain.

His hand is a bit stiff some days, but that’s not keeping him from riding his horse and holding on tight.