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.
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.