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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.

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Toronto van attack: 9 dead, injuries reported

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:21 PM

Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd  of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in the intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)
Aaron Vincent Elkaim/AP
Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in the intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)(Aaron Vincent Elkaim/AP)

A van apparently jumped onto a sidewalk Monday at a busy intersection in Toronto and struck down pedestrians before the vehicle was found and the driver taken into custody, Canadian police said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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HURRICANE HARVEY: Bait shop owner’s insurance payout thwarted by a typo

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:49 AM

Mary Ann Heiman purchased windstorm insurance for her property along the causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, believing her business was covered when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the property. However, later, when she placed a claim with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), she was denied citing an inverted address number. Heiman stands on the concrete platform where the business once stood, on Thursday April 20, 2018, in Port Aransas, TX.
AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Mary Ann Heiman purchased windstorm insurance for her property along the causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, believing her business was covered when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the property. However, later, when she placed a claim with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), she was denied citing an inverted address number. Heiman stands on the concrete platform where the business once stood, on Thursday April 20, 2018, in Port Aransas, TX.(AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Mary Ann Heiman opened her bait shop on the the causeway that crosses Redfish Bay to Port Aransas in 2011. From the outside, 1950 Hwy 361 was nothing fancy.

“The building was just an old metal building that had sat here since the 1980s,” she said. “It was basically held together with nails and glue and love and duct tape.” The real value of Offshore Adventures was the equipment inside, the tanks and freezers Heiman needed to hold the crabs, shrimp, mud minnows and mullet that anglers bought in their pursuit of the Texas coast’s rich lode of redfish, trout and drum.

A resident of the area on and off since her 1950s childhood there, Heiman knew the wild weather that occasionally swept in from the Gulf and the havoc it could leave behind. Last July she purchased a policy from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to cover $60,000-worth of business personal property inside 1590 Hwy. 361 from high wind damage. It cost $679.

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Heiman’s timing couldn’t have been better. Hurricane Harvey barreled into Port Aransas a month later, on the evening of August 25, packing 130 mph winds and driving rain.

When Heiman was allowed back into the area a few days later, her bait shop had disappeared, the splintered debris of her livelihood hurled inland by the Category 4 winds. A group of wooden pylons roughly representing the outline of the shop poked out of the sand like a mouthful of broken teeth.

PHOTOS: Port Aransas recovery, seven months later

It was only after the adjuster for the windstorm insurance association went out to the site and agreed the record winds had destroyed her bait shop that it was discovered Heiman’s insurance agent had accidentally transposed two of the numbers in Offshore Adventures’ street address. In letters and phone calls, he asked TWIA to correct the typo so Heiman could collect her due and rebuild the business.

The association refused. Heiman’s policy for 1590 Hwy 361 did not cover 1950 Hwy 361, representatives explained. Her claim for the money she needed to restart her bait shop was stamped “denied.”

For more on Heiman’s dilemma, and how the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has served consumers since Hurricane Harvey, visit MyStatesman.com

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Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to baby boy

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 1:16 PM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 1:16 PM

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, Gives Birth to Royal Baby

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, has given birth to a baby boy, Kensington Palace tweeted Monday

Third Child Coming for Prince William, Kate Middleton

>> MORE ROYAL FAMILY COVERAGE: Photos: Royal baby watch: Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, in labor | Hospital begins preparations for Will, Kate and new baby | Photos: William, Kate and their growing family | Photos: Prince William through the years | Photos: Kate Middleton through the years | Photos: Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 92nd birthday | Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle | More trending news 

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Florida judge does not return to courtroom after berating frail inmate who died 3 days later

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:15 PM

Florida Judge Berates Frail Inmate Who Dies Three Days Later, Does Not Return To Courtroom

A Florida judge who berated a frail inmate who died three days later will not return to the bench, court officials said. 

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Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich will not return to the bench after her treatment of Sandra Twiggs, 59, who appeared before her last week on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter said Saturday, according to WFOR.

“In light of recent events we have decided Judge Ehrlich will be told not to return to the courthouse as her retirement is effective June 30,” Tuter said, according to The Associated Press. “I will be working this weekend to find a substitute to cover Judge Ehrlich’s (family court) division.”

During the first appearance, Twiggs, who was in a wheelchair, explained to Ehrlich that she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and needed breathing treatments, according to WFOR

First appearance hearings are streamed online and recorded.

“Ma’am, don’t even say yes. Just listen,” Ehrlich said. “I’m not here to talk about your breathing treatments.”

Ehrlich released Twiggs without bond. Twiggs died Wednesday in her sleep.

“When she came home from being in there she was never the same,” Carolyn Porter, Twiggs’ goddaughter, told WFOR.

Ehrlich who was first elected in 2008 planned to retire June 30. She filed her retirement paperwork two weeks prior to this incident. 

Tuter said he would be calling Twiggs’ family to apologize. 

“I am saddened and disappointed in the way Judge Ehrlich behaved on the video. Her behavior cannot be condoned,” he said.

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