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Young Victims of Python Were Asphyxiated

Posted: Aug. 8, 2013, 5:50 p.m. EDT

Autopsies on two boys thought to have been killed by an African rock python in eastern Canada confirmed that they died from asphyxiation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported Wednesday.

As the investigation into their deaths continues, authorities revised early reports that the 100-pound, 14-foot-long snake escaped from an exotic pet store Monday and slithered upstairs to where the brothers were sleeping.

Instead, the python was kept in a tall glass enclosure in another room of the apartment. The animal is believed to have entered a ceiling ventilation duct before falling into the living room and attacking Noah Barthe, 4, and Connor Barthe, 6.

 African rock python
African rock pythons are nonvenomous snakes native to Sub-Saharan Africa.
The apartment was occupied by the owner of Reptile Ocean, Jean-Claude Savoie, and his family. The Barthe brothers were on a sleepover in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada, when they died.

"While we now have some preliminary information, investigators still have to wait for other test results to come back and for the final report,” said Sgt. Alain Tremblay of the New Brunswick division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "We recognize that this has touched the hearts of people across the world and that people want to know how this could have happened. Our investigators are looking at all aspects of this tragic incident, and that will take some time.”

The python was captured and killed. Results of a necropsy are pending.

Police reported that the snake was in good health at the time of the attack.

The Canadian Press reported today that four American alligators, six crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and snakes were being removed from the pet store and would be shipped to either Indian River Reptile Zoo near Peterborough, Ontario, or to Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton, New Brunswick.

The private possession of African rock pythons was banned in New Brunswick in 2009.


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