Deadly Snake Attack in Florida

OXFORD, FL – An 8 1/2 foot long Burmese Python escaped from an aquarium during the night, in a home with 3 small children sleeping in their beds. When the owner discovered the snake missing in the morning, two year old Shaiunna Hare had already had the life squeezed from her.

In the 911 call to police, Charles Jason Darnell, the boyfriend of Shaiunna’s mother, swears and whimpers, telling a dispatcher, “The baby’s dead. … Our stupid snake got out in the middle of the night and strangled the baby. … She got out of the cage last night and got into the baby’s crib and strangled her to death.”

The child was dead when deputies arrived about 10 a.m.

Officials say it’s the first documented python attack on a human in Florida.

The snake was found under furniture and was alive when officers removed it several hours later from the home on rural County Road 466. Officials said the reptile was a family pet, along with a 6-foot python.

“This is a very sad situation,” Sumter County Sheriff Bill Farmer said. “To keep a large, unsecured snake in the house is just asking for trouble.”

Darnell told deputies he placed the larger snake in a bag, which he put in an aquarium Tuesday night. Darnell said he discovered the snake had escaped when he awoke this morning, officials said.

Darnell, 32, told investigators he found the python on top of Shaiunna. He stabbed it several times to get it to release the child, but it was too late. She also had bite marks on her head.

Two older children who were in the home at the time were unharmed.

Darnell and Shaiunna’s mother, Jaren Ashley Hare, 23, were questioned by deputies. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday night.

The snakes have been confiscated and will be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine whether they should be euthanized, sheriff’s Lt. Bobby Caruthers said.

Darnell does not have a permit to own a Burmese python, classified as a “reptile of concern,” said Joy Hill, spokeswoman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

It’s a second-degree misdemeanor to possess a python without a permit.

Pythons are not a native species but are popular among snake owners. They can grow to more than 25 feet and are constrictors, killing their prey by wrapping themselves around it and squeezing.

Officials say about 450 licensees are permitted to possess reptiles of concern and/or venomous reptiles in Florida

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