updated 9/5/2006 5:18:05 PM ET 2006-09-05T21:18:05

A 14-foot pet python crushed its owner to death, authorities said Tuesday after finding the snake loose in a southern Indiana shed with the man’s body.

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Patrick Von Allmen, 23, was found Monday evening in the shed near Lanesville, about 15 miles west of Louisville, Ky.

A medical examiner determined that the death was consistent with asphyxiation caused by compression of the neck and chest, said Conservation Officer Mark Farmer.

“When you’re dealing with a wild animal species, you take on a certain amount of risk,” he said.

Von Allmen had told family members he was going to treat the snake for a medical condition, farmer said. He was alone in the shed with the python for about three hours before his body was found.

Relatives said Von Allmen had 10 to 12 years of experience handling reptiles, according to authorities. The family got the snake as a pet five months ago, Farmer said.

Indiana law does not restrict ownership of snakes, and the python was returned to the family.

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