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Nebraska Man Killed by Pet Snake, Police Say

OMAHA, Neb. -- A suburban Omaha man has died after being strangled by his 9-foot, 25-pound pet boa constrictor, authorities said Thursday.

Cory Byrne, 34, of Papillion died Wednesday night at a local hospital, just hours after police and paramedics pried the snake from around his neck, police said.

Byrne had been showing the snake to a friend when it wrapped around his shoulders and neck and squeezed, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said.

An officer was called to Byrne's apartment near downtown Papillion around 5:40 p.m. The officer found Byrne on the ground with the snake still around his neck.

Paramedics soon arrived and helped get the snake off Byrne and into a cage.

The Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha has taken custody of the male red-tailed boa constrictor, said spokesman Mark Langan.

The snake appears to have been well-fed, said Langan, who added he did not know what might have led the snake to strangle its owner.

"The sad reality is, whether its a dog or a cat or snake, no matter how much you trust an animal, they react unpredictably in certain situations," Langan said. "Once a snake clamps down like that, they're extremely strong. It would have been very difficult for one person to remove that snake."

Langan said he believes it was Nebraska's first fatality from a pet snake.

The Humane Society of the United States says at least 13 people have been killed in the U.S. by pet pythons -- which are also constrictors -- since 1980.

"But as far as I know, this is the first time someone has been killed by a pet boa constrictor," said Beth Preiss, the society's captive wildlife regulation specialist.

Polikov, who also serves as the county's coroner, said strangulation has been ruled as the cause of death.

No citations or charges are planned, Polikov said, as it appears no laws were broken.

"There's already discussion about looking at the law," he said. "Omaha has an ordinance against such animals; Papillion doesn't. There's no state controlling law."

Polikov said authorities are now trying to determine what to do with the snake, but are leaning toward placing it with a zoo or sanctuary.

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