New York driver with snake around her neck crashes into firehouse

NEW YORK Tue Aug 5, 2014 3:22pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York woman who crashed her Toyota Prius into a firehouse with a stolen python wrapped around her neck pleaded not guilty to charges including reckless endangerment and larceny on Tuesday, law enforcement officials said.

Sarah Espinosa, 22, from Albany, drove over the center median on the Jericho Turnpike on Long Island late Monday and plowed through the garage door of the New Hyde Park Fire House, damaging two fire trucks, the Nassau County Police Department said in a statement.

"Fire personnel who were present at the time of the accident rendered aid to the victim, at which time they discovered a small ball python snake wrapped around the defendant's neck," police said.

Firefighters removed the snake and Espinosa was transported to a local hospital, police said. She was released a short time later.

Espinosa was charged with reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, and unlawful possession of marijuana in addition to reckless endangerment in the second degree and petty larceny.

Police said they were not sure if the snake had been strangling Espinosa and caused her to crash, or if her driving was impaired by intoxication.

Espinosa is accused of stealing the snake from a nearby PETCO store before the crash, police said. The animal, priced at $89.99, was returned to the pet store later on Monday, police said.

She was arraigned on Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead, where a judge ordered her held on $5,000 bail and suspended her driver's license, Nassau County District Attorney spokesman Shams Tarek said.

Calls to the legal group representing Espinosa were not immediately returned on Tuesday.

Small ball pythons are not as long and thick as other types of python and they are more docile, according to PETCO's website.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Bernadette Baum and Eric Walsh)

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