AUSTIN (KXAN) — A teenager who suffered cardiac arrest after a possible snake bite died at Round Rock Medical Center Tuesday night.
A call for help at 9:37 p.m. sent medics with Austin-Travis County EMS to the parking lot of the Lowe’s home improvement store on Interstate 35 near Parmer Lane. They found a man inside a Kia Soul in the parking lot with puncture wounds on his wrist. EMS Commander Mike Benavides said they were from a snake bite, but police say they’re waiting on an autopsy to determine official cause of death.
Judge Dain Johnson’s office in Williamson County says the person who died is 18-year-old Grant Thompson, of Temple.
The Austin Police Department and Animal Control says after inspecting the man’s car, they determined there was nothing venomous in the car. Animal Control did find one nonvenomous snake in a crate, six tarantulas, and one bullfrog — all of which are currently with the Austin Reptile Rescue.
“There were some animals in the vehicle that needed to be picked up and cared for,” says Tim Cole, who owns Austin Reptile Rescue.
The only thing unaccounted for is a cobra snake. Police say the snake was missing from its cage in the victim’s home in Temple, but it wasn’t found in the car.
Thompson and his family owned Fish Bowl Pet Express in Temple. Hundreds of children from the Ralph Wilson Youth Club would visit Grant at the store for their favorite field trip of the summer.
Camp director and family friend Charlie Kimmee says, “He liked interacting with the kids. You could tell he was real educated and loved animals, and he tried to communicate that to kids so they wouldn’t be afraid of the animals but learn to be cautious around them.”
Another family friend, Rod Henry, president of the Temple Chamber of Commerce knew the family also.
“This is tragic news; it’s so sad,” he said. “It sucks the air right out of you.”
In regards to snake safety, Cole says to stay calm.
“The best thing to do when you see a snake is turn around and walk away. That’s it. It’s very simple.”
Police say Thompson owned a monocled cobra snake, and they pointed out that it is possible that the snake is in the area of the 13000 block of North I-35, near where Thompson was found. If anyone has any information about this particular snake or this case, they are asked to call the APD Homicide Unit at 512-974-5210.
Police do want to emphasize: If you see the snake, call 911 immediately. Do not approach it. It is black with a distinctive circle on its back and a tan underbelly and is highly aggressive.
According to city of Austin officials, starting at 8 a.m. Friday, crews plan to search the Lowe’s parking lot and the immediate area for the missing cobra.
“We felt we needed to organize and conduct a proactive search in the interest of public safety,” said Mark Sloat, Animal Protection Supervisor.
“While we have had no reports of a snake on store property, we are focused on safety and are cooperating with local authorities in their search. Our garden center will be closed during the search,” said Karen Cobb, Lowe’s spokesperson.
Pictured here is a monocled cobra. This is not the actual snake.