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Snake loose on SEPTA bus causes evacuation

An escaped four-foot snake slithering loose on a SEPTA bus caused a minor panic among passengers Sunday and prompted an emergency evacuation in West Philadelphia, according to transit authority officials.

An escaped four-foot snake slithering loose on a SEPTA bus caused a minor panic among passengers Sunday and prompted an emergency evacuation in West Philadelphia, according to transit authority officials.

In an interview, the reptile's owner - Koron Riley, 26, of Philadelphia - said he boarded the Route 52 bus just before 3 p.m. with his Brazilian red-tailed boa constrictor named Redz draped around his neck and hidden under his jacket.

Somewhere along the route the snake escaped and coiled itself in a compartment under a seat.

"People were freaking out a little," Riley said.

The driver pulled over near the intersection of 52d Street and Westminster Avenue to allow passengers to evacuate.

A SEPTA mechanic was later able to dismantle the seat, allowing a gloved transit police officer to retrieve the snake, transit authority spokesman Andrew Busch said. The reptile was returned to Riley, who thanked the officer with a hug.

"There was surely some excitement and some alarm among some folks upon seeing the snake and it getting away from the owner," Busch said.

He did not know how many passengers were on the bus at the time. No injuries were reported.

SEPTA policy allows riders to bring service animals or small, contained pets onto buses or trains.

Riley said he was unaware of the policy when he boarded the bus after stopping off at a pet store to buy live rats to feed his pet.

But within moments of the boa's safe return, Riley set off once again for home with Redz and rats in tow - by boarding another bus.

Transit police continue to investigate and say they have not made a decision on whether any charges will be filed.

jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-854-2608

@jeremyrroebuck

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