Cause of death deemed inconclusive for man bitten by snake

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NIXA, Mo. (AP) — An investigation into the death of a southwest Missouri man who was bitten by a cottonmouth snake has failed to determine how he died.

Christian County Sheriff Brad Cole told the Springfield News-Leader the manner of death for 37-year-old Gilbert De Leon could not be determined.

The Nixa man was wading in the James River on May 22 when he was bitten by a snake. His girlfriend told authorities he refused to go to a hospital, and she found him dead the next morning.

A toxicology report says De Leon was legally drunk and had high levels of prescription drugs in his blood when he died.

Snakebite fatalities are rare in Missouri, and a conservation department herpetologist said he thought it was the state’s first cottonmouth-related snakebite death.