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This Snake in the Grass Won’t Put the Bite On Again

--The snake that bit the hand that fed it--leading to a global scramble to find an antivenin to save a researcher’s life--won’t be around to put the bite on anyone anymore. Death from natural causes claimed the Pakistani pit viper shortly after it sank its fangs into the thumb of William Haast, 78, owner of the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories in Salt Lake City. The incident almost killed Haast. Although he gives himself weekly injections to protect against the venom he collects for serums, the viper’s poison had robbed his blood of the ability to clot and he could have bled to death. Haast, who was released from the hospital Wednesday, praised the extraordinary efforts on his behalf to obtain antivenins from California, England and the Soviet Union, with the antivenin from California eventually doing the trick. Haast blames a sugar binge from the night before the accident--he ate four chocolate sundaes--for making him a little more hasty and careless the next day. “He was really buzzing around the lab that day,” said lab director Nancy Harrell.

--Carroll O’Connor, who made a career of playing an outspoken New York City bigot only to be resurrected as a police chief in NBC’s “In the Heat of the Night,” had coronary bypass surgery at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. O’Connor, 64, was doing well after five hours of cardiac bypass surgery, in which doctors performed six grafts to repair damage around his heart, said hospital spokeswoman Judy Smith. An angiogram was performed because of a “positive stress test” on O’Connor during a routine physical examination by his physician in nearby Covington, where the actor was filming, Smith said. David Gerber, chairman of MGM-UA Television, the show’s producers, said production of the show was proceeding as usual, with 18 of the planned 22 episodes already completed.

--Citing family concerns, Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) announced that he will not run for the governor’s office in 1990 despite being considered the early favorite to succeed retiring Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. In a statement from his Boston office, the 36-year-old son of the late Robert F. Kennedy said that he and his wife, Sheila, are separating. “This has been a very painful day for me and my family. As a father, my principal obligation and deepest personal desire is to assist my children through the most difficult time in their lives. . . . I also have a commitment to serve the people of the 8th Congressional District, therefore, I feel it impossible at this time to take on the added burden of running for another office.” The Kennedys, married since 1979, have twin sons, Matt and Joe.


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