NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A woman who crashed her car into a New Hyde Park firehouse Monday had a stolen snake wrapped around her neck, Nassau County police said.
Sarah Espinosa, 22, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to reckless endangerment, driving while intoxicated, unlawful possession of marijuana and petit larceny.
The judge set her bail at $5,000 and suspended her driver’s license.
Espinosa was driving west on Jericho Turnpike in a Toyota Prius on Monday evening when she crossed the center median and hit a car before crashing through the front garage door of the New Hyde Park firehouse, colliding with two fire trucks, police said.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, volunteers were gathered at the firehouse for a blood drive at the time of the crash.
“You heard a bang, and then about three seconds later, you heard a louder bang,” said fire Chief Steve Waldron. “So we come downstairs, and we saw a vehicle halfway into our firehouse.”
When fire personnel rushed over to help, they found a small ball python wrapped around Espinosa’s neck, police said.
“It was about 2 feet long,” Waldron told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I thought it was a pet. I guess she’s a snake person.”
Police said they later determined that she had stolen the snake from a Petco in Garden City just before the crash.
Espinosa, a recent SUNY Albany graduate, was taken to the hospital where she was treated and released.
The Fire Department was left with thousands of dollars in damage. But firefighters are grateful no one else was hurt.
“A lot of times, people just hang out on the bumper with the door open watching the traffic go by,” said volunteer firefighter John Pignetti. “It could have been a lot worse than it turned out.”
Ball pythons retail for less than $100. Experts at D&J Reptile in Amityville told Gusoff it’s the most common snake in the industry and is not venomous.
Espinosa also had a dog in the car, firefighters said.
“I’m sure the dog was curious of the snake, and the snake was scared of the dog,” said Josh Deutchman of D&J Reptiles. “So obviously it didn’t work out well for her. She crashed.”
The snake was removed from Espinosa’s neck by a member of the Fire Department trained in snake handling and was returned to the pet store unharmed, officials said.
Espinosa is due back in court Aug. 8, Rivera reported.
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