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Massive Snake Nearly Kills Man in Downtown Newport

A man is hospitalized Monday afternoon after a 15-ft.-long python attacked him inside his Newport store.

The River City News has learned that the man was cleaning the python's cage inside the store on the 600 block of Monmouth Street when the snake latched on his arm. "And they're punctured," Police Chief Tom Collins said. "You can see where the blood squirted on the wall and the floor."

That's when the man, later identified as Terry Wilkins, was fully wrapped up by the python which began to coil around the man's body, strangling him. Collins responded to the scene with a lieutenant and a sergeant. "I've never seen anything like it in 39 years," Collins said.

When the snake briefly let its head off the Wilkins's arm, Lt. Greg Ripberger seized the reptile and began to uncoil it. The man's body was lifeless, Collins said. Ripberger was able to get the snake back inside its cage as Collins, Sgt. Daron Arnberg, and other officers jerk the man away, and that jolt, Collins believes, got the man breathing on his own again.

Wilkins was quickly transferred to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. His condition is not known but his life is in danger.

Collins applauded his officers. "If I would have been by myself, I would have thought of shooting it," the chief said. "You can't say enough." 

"How do you prepare for this, and seeing this man and this snake? The seconds that, literally, the decisions were made, and you just hope you were making the right decisions," Collins said. "It's like something out of a book. You just really can't describe it. Of all the events and things you respond to, to respond to a call of this nature where a snake has bit a guy and now he's strangling him to death. He was literally coiled from the guy's torso all the way up around his neck."
The shop in Newport specializes in breeding snakes and Collins said that this particular python was more aggresive than most.
This story will be updated when more information is known.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Arnberg's first name as Baron. It has been corrected to Daron, with apologies.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher