Autopsy: Teen used cobra to commit suicide

Published: Thursday, November 12, 2015 @ 6:47 PM
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2015 @ 3:16 AM


            Monocled cobra found near the Lowe's Home Improvement store in North Austin early Friday morning. The snake is linked to the death of an 18-year-old man from Temple.
Monocled cobra found near the Lowe's Home Improvement store in North Austin early Friday morning. The snake is linked to the death of an 18-year-old man from Temple.

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An 18-year-old man’s death has been ruled a suicide after he was found in a North Austin parking lot in July with multiple cobra bites, according to an autopsy report obtained Thursday by the American-Statesman.

Grant Thompson had “multiple separate bites” on each arm, and the bite sites showed no evidence that he tried to pull away from the snake as it struck, the autopsy said. The bites “appeared to be intentional injection sites,” and Thompson “had a history of suicidal ideation,” the report said.

Thompson was found on July 14 suffering from cardiac arrest inside a vehicle outside a hardware store near Interstate 35.

He had another snake and several tarantulas in the back of his car, which also had an empty container that housed the cobra. For several days, animal control officials looked for the missing snake, and a driver eventually found it on the I-35 frontage road near the store.

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The autopsy report said cobra venom blocks nerve transmissions, leading to altered mental status and eventual paralysis. Symptoms can then lead to respiratory failure and death within 30 minutes.

Thompson worked at the Fish Bowl Pet Express in Temple, a business his mother, Seleese Thompson-Mann, owns and had planned for Thompson to take over. Thompson lived in an apartment attached to the pet store.

A trip to the Austin Zoo at the age of 4 sparked Thompson’s passion for animals. He rarely left the house without an animal in his hands and took animals to church each Sunday to share with classes, his obituary said.

He became a young animal expert, who rescued several animals and often was sought for advice on caring for animals.

“Grant died surrounded by animals that intrigued and fascinated him,” said the obituary.

Why isn't the Google's art selfie feature available in two states?

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:53 PM

(Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images for MBFW)
Joern Pollex/Getty Images for MBFW
(Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images for MBFW)(Joern Pollex/Getty Images for MBFW)

Google’s new Arts & Culture App has been insanely popular over the last week -- and no, it’s not because people are wanting to brush up on their art history skills (though it’s good for that, too). It’s because there’s a hilarious feature where you can upload a photo of yourself and the app will match your face with a work of art that resembles you. 

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Except in Texas and Illinois, that is.

According to the Chicago Tribune, it’s because of the states’ biometric privacy laws, which limits companies who obtain “biometric identifiers” (like a “retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint or record of hand or face geometry,” according to the law) for commercial purposes. Anyone violating the Texas law passed in 2009 could be subject to a penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. 

Guys, this app is DEAD ON.

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At odds on immigration and spending, Congress stares at a Friday night government shutdown

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 6:07 PM

Unable to bridge the partisan divide on immigration, federal spending levels and more, Republicans and Democrats in the Congress were on the verge of letting funding for the government lapse at midnight on Friday night, as members of both parties eagerly pointed the finger of blame at each other for the spending impasse, which could trigger the first federal shutdown in over four years.

“That would be a mistake,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “Government shutdowns do not make sense.”

That Republican argument carried the day in the House, as lawmakers voted mainly along party lines Thursday evening in favor of a four week temporary funding plan – but once the bill reached the Senate floor, leaders quickly sent Senators home for the night, unable to agree on how best to proceed.

“They’re prepared to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared of Democrats, as McConnell said there was no reason to rush on solving problems with DACA and Dreamers, as GOP leaders struggled to get a majority of Senators to vote for the House-passed bill.

Meanwhile, Democrats complained that immigration talks have been slow walked by Republicans and the White House, and that it was time to force a solution on immigration, overall budget limits and more.

“We should be united in trying to come to a solution, not just kick the can down the road,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

If Congress is unable to reach a spending agreement by midnight, then many government functions would start to wind down over the weekend.

In the House, Republicans said now was the time for more negotiations, not a spending impasse which would close many government operations.

“We’ve kept the government open,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). “The right thing for the Senate to do would be to vote yes, and continue to negotiate.”

“I now just implore the Senate, do your job,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).

As Senators gathered on the floor late Thursday, a number of illegal immigrant “Dreamers” were seated in the galleries, watching the debate below.

“Look at the people who have gathered here late this night, who are following every word that we are debating,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

“Why are they here if there’s no urgency?” added Durbin, who is a leading negotiator for Democrats on DACA and immigration issues.

But while Durbin and other Democrats called for action on a bipartisan agreement on Senators from both parties related to DACA, their plan had still not been put into legislative language.

GOP Senators pointed out that lack of a bill in making the case that no deal was likely over the weekend on immigration, and again saying that the deadline was not until March.

“This institution regrettably needs to be forced into action,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who broke ranks with his party’s leadership to vote against a stopgap budget, demanding immediate action on DACA.

“We don’t have to wait until March, it would be cruel to wait until March,” Curbelo told reporters after the House had voted.

As for President Donald Trump, the White House schedule issued for Friday still had him going to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, where a party to celebrate the one year anniversary of Mr. Trump’s inauguration was reportedly scheduled for Saturday.

Also on Mr. Trump’s Friday schedule was an address to thousands rallying for the March for Life, and a meeting with his national security team in the White House Situation Room.

But Democrats only saw one thing – Air Force One leaving town.

“Trump going to Mar-a-Lago while government shutdown looms is most irresponsible, self absorbed, dereliction of duty ever by a President,” tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).

But even as both sides traded barbs, there was a lot of frustration among Republicans over the budget process, which has become stuck in neutral on a regular basis.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that we are sitting here today, having not funded the government permanently for the balance of this year,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).

If the federal government does shut down this weekend, it would be the first spending impasse since 2013, when Republicans blocked action on funding bills for 16 days, protesting the implementation of the Obama health law.

Boston University study finds repeated hits to the head can cause CTE, without concussions

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 10:27 PM

Youth football players. (Photo: Boston25News.com)
Youth football players. (Photo: Boston25News.com)

Kimberly Archie was pleased to hear about the new findings on chronic brain injuries released by Boston University on Thursday. 

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Doctors at BU have found constant hits to young athletes – even without concussions – cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. 

Archie says this better explains how her son died.

“I think it's great that peer-reviewed research has finally caught up to what a lot of us have known for a long time,” she told Boston 25 News. “And it seemed very suspect the way he died because the behavior was so erratic.”

Archie says her son died at age 24 from reckless driving that seemed suicidal, but she didn't understand why, until she had his brain autopsied and found he suffered from CTE after playing football from age 7 to 15.

“My son never had any brain injuries or what a lot of people like to call a concussion,” Archie said. 

The new research could change the way some sports are played. The athletic director at Walpole High School says he already plans to talk to coaches about the findings from BU, to find ways players can avoid those dangerous hits.

Ron Dowd says the new findings that hard hits can cause brain damage in several sports at a young age -- makes sense. 

“The more education, the more proof that you have is always better, you're always looking to improve” Dowd said. 

He plans to work with coaches to show players how to make tackles and plays without injuring their brain.

“You can still encompass techniques and so forth, still get your point across and not be slamming heads,” he said. 

Dowd says game rules could also be changed in the future to prevent CTE after this new research.

Archie hopes the new research helps other families avoid the loss she's had.

“It's different once you have the proof and you look back, then it becomes crystal clear,” she said.

3-month-old girl exposed to heroin, taken to hospital

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 10:17 PM

Crystal Cumberland. (Photo: WPXI.com)
Crystal Cumberland. (Photo: WPXI.com)

Police arrested a woman after they say she exposed her baby to fentanyl.

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But she told investigators that's not the drug she thought she was using.

The baby had to be flown to Children's Hospital from Uniontown.

Crystal Cumberland is in jail and facing charges including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to Pennsylvania State Police in Fayette County, in November, the baby girl had to be given several doses of Narcan to revive her.

At the time, investigators thought the baby overdosed on heroin, but according to a criminal complaint, Cumberland "admitted to hospital staff to snorting a white powder to get high, which exposed the infant to fentanyl that was sold as heroin."