Friday, October 30, 2009

Man Found Inhaling Chemicals

From the Daily Record in New Jersey

A 48-year-old male was arrested earlier this week after police found him ‘huffing’ toxic chemicals behind a community shopping center. Officers arrived to the scene after receiving several calls about an “intoxicated man” loitering around the premise. Reports reveal that the suspect had been inhaling chemicals and “was in possession of a narcotic analgesic.” Upon further investigation, officers learned that the suspect had two warrants out for his arrest in two nearby counties and placed him in police custody immediately.

Inhalant Data From Massachusetts

From the MetroWest Daily in Framingham, Massachusetts:

The results of the second Ashland Adolescent Health Survey were recently revealed. At the middle school, 8 percent had abused inhalants.

Police Find Homeless Man 'Huffing' Gas

From the Tri-County Times in Michigan

Last week Michigan State Police received complainants from a male property owner who claimed “a homeless man had been living on his land since July.” When police arrived to the scene, they found a 25-year-old homeless male “inhaling gasoline fumes from a container next to a makeshift tent” in a heavily wooded area. The homeless man told officers he had been living in the woods since July, after being involved in a car accident. According to reports, the homeless man had not bathed since July and appeared to have infected open wounds on his head. Police transported him to a local hospital for medical assessment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Woman Jailed For 'Huffing'

From KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota

A 31-year-old Rapid City woman who was arrested last April for “huffing computer duster near her children in a car with the windows closed” will serve six months in jail in addition to two years probation. Witnesses told police they saw the suspect “huffing in her vehicle and pointing the can toward one of the kid's faces.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Inhalant Data from Oregon

From the Sherwood Gazette in Oregon

Sherwood School District counselors recently released findings from the 2008-09 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey:

  • 2.2% of the students said they had used inhalants

More information on the survey and all the results can be found at dhs.state.or.us/dhs/ph/chs/youthsurvey/ohtdata

Inhalant Data for North Dakota

From the Dickinson Press in North Dakota

Interesting inhalant-related stats:

  • 19.6% of those surveyed use inhalants at least once in his or her lifetime, as compared to a state average of 11.1%
  • In a 30-day use period, 8% of those surveyed use inhalants, with the state average sitting at 3.5%

Mother 'Huffs' In Front Of Baby

From The Herald-Citizen in Tennessee

The 27-year-old mother who was caught ‘huffing’ computer duster in a Cookeville Wal-mart parking lot last Friday, has been charged with child abuse/neglect, DUI, and inhaling a toxic substance. According to police reports, officers found the woman unconscious behind the wheel of a running car- clutching a can of dust remover with a 16-month-old child in the back seat.

Police were notified of the incident early Friday afternoon after receiving complaints of a “lady in the parking lot sitting in a vehicle with the engine running, snorting a can of dust remover.” When officers arrived they found the suspect slumped over and unresponsive to the cries of her young son. According to reports the suspect awoke abruptly, took two more ‘huffs’ of the duster, and began trying to release the car’s brake to drive away. The suspect displayed visible signs of impairment via her red watery eyes, slurred speech, and delayed motor movements.

The suspect was taken to a local hospital for examination before being placed into police custody. She will appear in court November 2nd. The 16-month-old baby sustained no injuries from the incident and has since been turned over to the care of responsible family members by the Department of Children’s Services.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Man Violates Probation

From HomeTownLife.com in Michigan

A 20-year-old male was ticketed for “suspicion of inhaling chemical agents” last week in suburban Detroit when officers found the suspect “slouched over on a bench” and visibly inebriated outside of a local furniture store. The suspect was reportedly on probation at the time of the incident.

Upon further questioning, officers spotted a can of dust remover that was half empty inside the suspect’s unzipped black jacket. “The suspect was also carrying an inhaler in his jacket, which he later told police he used to control his asthma.” The 20-year-old was ticketed for violating the terms of his probation and is expected to appear in district court next week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Defense Claims 'Huffing' Led to Murder

From The Record Searchlight in Redding, California

A California jury has yet to reach a verdict in the murder trial of 28-year-old Scott Varner, who has admitted to kidnapping and killing a 35-year-old woman nearly four years ago. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Varner, who plead guilty to the November 2005 murder of Jeanette Mariedth reportedly “suffers from severe brain damage as a result of his past drug use,” according to defense attorneys. The defense claims that the plaintiff did “not intend to kill” the victim- citing a long history of inhalant abuse as the culprit behind their client’s impaired mental functioning and irrational behavior. Varner began ‘huffing’ inhalants when he was just 12 years old. Jurors have yet to reach a conclusion as to the validity of the defense’s claims.

Inhalant Data from Massachusetts

From the Norton Mirror in Raynham, Massachusetts

Inhalant related data from a survey administered to Norton middle and high school students in June, 2009:

  • 5.2 percent of the middle school students report having used an inhalant in the past 30 days

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Driver Arrested For Sniffing Duster

From The Hingham Journal in Massachusetts

On October 7th Police were dispatched to a local intersection after receiving reports that a man was passed out in a vehicle alongside the road. Upon arriving at the scene, officers found a 29-year-old male extremely disoriented and clutching a can of dust remover. Officers were able to coax the man into an ambulance.

The 29-year-old reportedly admitted to “sniffing from the can” and was exhibiting common symptoms related to excessive inhalant use. The man was arrested for “operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, operating a vehicle to endanger, and operating a vehicle with an open bottle of alcohol in the car.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shoplifting Teens Apprehended

From The Free Lance Star in Fredricksburg, VA

Two teens were arrested on Tuesday after they were caught stealing several cans of computer duster from a local Wal-Mart. Both men are facing felony charges in connection to the incident. According to reports, two off-duty police officers were shopping in the store and witnessed a young male run out carrying stolen cans of computer duster and other miscellaneous goods- “dropping items everywhere.” Officers yelled to the suspect to stop but their orders were ignored. The suspect jumped into a car driven by another young man and fled the scene.

Officers quickly caught up to the suspects at a nearby intersection. However, when a deputy approached the teens “the teen driver turned his wheels and moved toward the officer, forcing her to jump out of the way.” The suspects were eventually apprehended by police at the intersection and were taken to Rappahannock Regional Jail. Four cans of computer duster were found in the suspects’ car.

'Huffer' Heads To Prison

From Tyler Morning Telegraph in Texas

On Wednesday, a Tyler County jury found 23-year-old, Jamie Guerrero guilty of “aggravated assault on a public servant;” sentencing him to 35 years in prison with a mandatory 17 year confinement without parole. Guerrero was facing a life sentence in connection to an incident last January that involved him threatening a police officer with a knife and resisting arrest.

Police arrived at Guerrero’s residence upon receiving a complaint from the suspect’s mother. Officers discovered Guerrero in the back yard “sniffing spray paint, talking incoherently, and making loud noises while breathing from a plastic bag containing a rag coated in spray paint.” When Guerrero saw the approaching officers, he fled the scene and “ran through a heavily wooded area toward a creek;” before falling along an embankment- clearly high from ‘huffing.’

One officer noticed the suspect was holding a knife and asked him to drop it immediately. Guerrero refused and instead verbally threatened the officer, asserting that he would use the weapon and “scar [the officer] for life.” After several failed attempts to restrain the suspect, officers used a Taser stun gun to subdue him- and were able to take Guerrero into custody.

In court, Guerrero pled not guilty to assaulting a police officer even though audio tapes of the altercation revealed otherwise. It took the jury only45 minutes to deliberate and deliver a ‘guilty’ verdict earlier this week.

It is safe to say that Guerrero’s altered state of mind, was clearly a result of ‘huffing’ spray paint, and contributed greatly to his erratic behavior and violent reactions displayed toward police last January. It is not yet known if the suspect will be required to undergo a drug rehabilitation program while in jail.

Father 'Huffs' Duster While Watching Son

From The West Des Moines Register in Iowa

Earlier this week, police officers in West Des Moines arrested a 42-year-man on child endangerment charges after he was discovered huffing computer duster while supervising his 7-year-old son. Additional details have yet to be released to the public.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Woman Caught Inhaling Aerosol

From The Palm Beach Post in Florida

A Florida woman will be arraigned in court later this month after officers found her "incoherent and sitting in the grass" alongside a busy street in Palm Beach. According to police reports, the woman was inhaling aerosol from a can to get high, and had another can of the substance in her purse. She was transported to a local hospital by police.

Teens Crash Into Building

From Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune in Wisconsin

Three males were transported to a local hospital Monday evening after a car they were in crashed through a gate and struck a Wisconsin Rapids building that was under construction. The driver of the car, 17-year-old Devin Adkins told police he passed out prior to the crash and was “under the influence of a controlled substance.” Officers found aerosol cans in the vehicle.

Two passengers, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old were also involved in the crash. They later told police “Adkins' foot was on the accelerator when he lost consciousness.” As of Wednesday, the 15-year-old passenger remained in critical condition.

Adkins was arrested at the scene and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a substance and causing bodily injury. Adkins’ bond was set at $10,000 with the condition that he would maintain absolute sobriety and wear an electronic monitoring device until his trial.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Governor Bans the Sale of 'Whippets' to Minors

From The Oakland Tribune in California

California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a state-wide bill tightening the sale and distribution of nitrous oxide ‘whippets’ to minors. Under Assembly Bill 1015, submitted by Bay Area Congressman Tom Torkalson, young children and teens “will find it much more difficult to purchase ‘whippets’ intended for home use in whipped cream bottles.” Schwarzenegger’s approval of the legislation now makes it a crime to sell nitrous oxide ‘whippets’ to anyone under the age of 18. Of the 705 bills presented, a total of 478 were signed by the governor.

Party Mom To Face Manslaughter Charges

From FirstCoastNews.com in St. Johns County, Florida

A Florida mom who has been accused of hosting several house parties where teens allegedly drank alcohol, smoked marijuana, and inhaled nitrous oxide appeared in court last week. 51-year-old, Diane Santarelli, “was indicted on two counts of manslaughter and four misdemeanors after two intoxicated teens left a party she was supervising and died in a car accident” last January. The manslaughter charges are second degree felonies, each punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On January 12, 2009, 18-year-old Jessy Pitts and his 17-year-old passenger Taylor Brennan were killed when Pitts crashed his car into a guardrail while on the way home from a party hosted by Santarelli.

According to court documents Santarelli provided minors with alcohol, marijuana, and nitrous oxide ‘whippets’ over the course of several parties held in her home between September 2008 to January 2009.

Santarelli’s attorney argues that while his client illegally provided drugs and alcohol to minors, she is ultimately not responsible for the deaths of Pitts and Brennan, as both teens willingly got behind the wheel of a car despite being intoxicated. However, the prosecution attests that by directly contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Santarelli is to blame for the fatal crash.

The presiding judge made no motion to dismiss the felony charges last week, despite pleas from Santarelli’s attorney. The case will reconvene in court on December 1st.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Computer Duster Implicated in Crash

From The Livingston Daily in Michigan

Police in Livingston County are investigating whether inhalants played a role in an early morning car crash that sent two people to the hospital. The driver, a local 18-year old, reportedly passed out behind the wheel of his 1998 Buick at around 9:30 a.m. this morning; “crossing over two lanes of traffic and hitting five cars.” This is the driver’s second such crash in just two weeks.

The unconscious teen “struck two parked cars at the Krug Ford Lincoln & Mercury dealership; subsequently causing the two parked vehicles to ram into three additional parked vehicles” on impact. Emergency workers transported the driver and his 19-year-old passenger to a nearby hospital for treatment. No serious injuries were reported.

According to Sherriff Bob Bezotte, the 18-year-old driver is currently “being tested for chemical use as a result of huffing.” It is believed that the two men purchased a can of computer duster cleaner from a local Wal-Mart prior to the crash, as officers discovered an open can of duster in at the scene.

Monday, October 12, 2009

'Huffing' Update From Des Moines

From DesMoinesRegister.com in Iowa

Last week four West Des Moines teens were suspended after allegedly inhaling compressed gas. The article references ACE’s offer to provide both the police and school officials in that community free inhalant prevention kits for inclusion in the district's twice-yearly drug-education program.

The article also mentions a 1986 case where a 16 year-old high school student “collapsed and died in a darkroom from the intentional inhalation of a spray used to clean photographic negatives.”

Please help us get information out to even more communities around the country:
1. Visit our website http://www.inhalant.org/ to learn more about the issue.
2. Also visit our inhalant message board and read some of the many daily posts.
3. Download a copy of your own electronic version of the free inhalant abuse prevention kit here.

Inhalant Abuse in South Africa: New Data

From The Witness in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

South Africa’s Health Promotion Research and Developmental Unit of the Medical Research Council recently outlined highlights of their study, the full results of which will be available next February. Some interesting inhalant data:

  • 17.8 percent of teens in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) admit to using inhalants
  • Nationally, 11.1 percent of teens admit to using inhalants.

Huffer Shuts Down Tulsa Wal-Mart

From KTUL-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Around 3 am this morning, police were summoned on reports of a suspicious man 'huffing' in a Wal-Mart bathroom.

When police arrived to the scene they found the man in the stall with a gun on his lap. Officers called for back-up and shut down the Wal-Mart. The man continued to 'huff' the contents of a computer duster can as police attempted to coax him out- even continuing to 'huff' after laying down his weapon.

The man finally surrendered after pepper balls were fired into the rest room. His gun turned out to be an air pistol. He is “being held on a public intoxication complaint.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Man Caught Driving 'Under the Influence' of Computer Duster

From The Rapid City Journal in South Dakota

Yesterday a 24-year-old male was arrested after he was caught driving under the influence of inhalants- his third related offense. He is being charged on three felony counts of driving under the influence, vehicular battery and fleeing the scene of an accident. The driver reportedly passed out behind the wheel of a Ford Taurus after ‘huffing’ computer duster; hitting two vehicles before crashing into a tree.

Witnesses told police they saw the suspect “rear-end a postal delivery truck” and “hit a parked car” near an elementary school Thursday morning. “Accident investigators estimate the vehicle was traveling down the street at a speed of 30-35 mph. No life-threatening injuries were reported, but the suspect’s mother, who was riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident, was taken to a nearby hospital for a broken leg.

Witnesses also reported “watching the suspect conceal something in the car’s trunk” before he fled the scene. Police quickly arrested the suspect within a few blocks of the accident, and found two cans of computer duster in the trunk. The suspect is expected to face additional criminal charges.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

'Huffing' Teen Hits Power Pole

From The Dickinson Press in North Dakota

An 18-year-old Dickinson woman was reportedly ‘huffing’ when she slammed her car into a light pole Tuesday, causing a city-wide power outage. The teen is being charged “with not wearing a seat belt, reckless driving, and the inhalation of vapors and volatile chemicals” in connection to the accident. She told police she had blacked out behind the wheel while ingesting the contents of an unspecified substance.

The teen was the only individual involved in the crash, and is currently receiving medical care at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck- as of Wednesday night. According to police, emergency crews had to “use the Jaws of Life” to remove the teen from her totaled vehicle.

While the impact was not enough to knock the light pole over, it did elicit significant damage, prompting a 30 minute power outage across 5,100 businesses and homes in the area.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

'Huffer' Throws Propane Tank Off Building

From KJRH.com in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Police have arrested a man they believe was high from “huffing intoxicants” when two officers witnessed him throw a propane gas tank off the top of a midtown Tulsa building early last week. The suspect is expected to be charged with arson in connection to a fire he ignited with chemicals while loitering on the roof. Area firefighters were called to the scene and quickly extinguished the flames. A ladder truck was needed to secure the suspect into police custody. Authorities are still investigating the incident.

Nitrous Oxide Triggers Fatal Fall

From The Lansing Journal in Michigan

According to East Lansing police, a 25-year-old man is dead after he fell and hit his head while inhaling nitrous oxide in his apartment Saturday night. Witnesses disclosed to authorities that the victim, identified as William Andrew Briton of Ortonville, was consuming large quantities of alcohol and ‘huffing’ nitrous oxide up until his fatal fall- “falling forward and striking his head while inhaling nitrous.”

Rescue workers were unable to resuscitate Briton at the scene. County medical examiners conducted an autopsy yesterday to determine Briton’s exact cause of death. Additional details will be released as they become available.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

His Death Was Not From Drowning- It Was From 'Huffing'

From the Pocono Record in Pennsylvania

The Lehigh County Coroner's Office reports that the 29 year old man found floating in a shallow creek in April did not die from drowning- but from huffing. Toxicology tests (which can can take anywhere from 8 to 24 weeks to complete) came back positive for difluoroethane, a chemical commonly found in computer duster. The death was ruled as an accident-caused by complications from huffing.

Sadly, just yesterday we posted a story from this same paper about four 17-year old teens who were injured when their car veered off the road. The driver had been huffing 'aerosol.' If anyone in Northeastern Pennsylvania is reading this blog and has ideas on how ACE can help get free educational resources to groups within your community– please contact us. Send an e-mail to info@consumered.org!

Huffer Caught and Jailed Once Again

From the Wheeling Intelligencer in West Virginia

A 45 year old man is behind bars once again after being caught huffing gold spray paint. Last Monday, police responded to a call at around 6 am for man covered in gold paint at a 7-Eleven store. The man was arrested and charged with “breathing intoxicating compounds.”

The article notes that the man has been arrested locally at least five times for huffing spray paint. While his 2005 mugshot was the one most will remember, there have been many more incidents since then. On August 29th he was found inhaling spray paint in an industrial park. On March 24th this year he was found walking along a highway with this lower face and hands covered in spray paint. In 2008 he was arrested after police found him staggering through town. In 2006 he was found covered in paint, just one week after having been arrested for huffing under the Interstate bridge.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Teens Were 'Huffing' Before Crash

From The Pocono Record in Pennsylvania

A carload of teens are lucky to be alive- after the vehicle they were riding in crashed into a tree last Thursday evening in Hamilton Township. According to police reports the three 17-year-old boys present in the vehicle were ‘huffing’ an aerosol product, eventually causing the teen driver to pass out behind the wheel and crash his Pontiac Grand Am into a tree.

Accident reports reveal that after striking the tree, “the car proceeded to roll onto the passenger side and then onto the roof…coming to a rest 150 feet from the initial point of impact.” Police confiscated four cans of computer duster from the vehicle. The boys later admitted to inhaling the contents of the cans while driving. The driver was transported to a nearby medical center for treatment where he consented to a blood test. Charges are pending the results of the blood test.

Inhalant Abuse in Nebraska

From the Grand Island Independent in Nebraska

This was an excellent article on the dangers of inhalant abuse.

The piece starts off with a firsthand account of what inhalant abuse was like from the point of the user. Inhaling from a computer duster was described as a “light-headed feeling punctuated with a "whah-whah-whah" sound.” The anonymous user noted that he started using inhalants “after seeing "some older kids doing it." He also admitted that would get the can of duster at Wal-Mart and he chose dusters because “it was easy to find and it was cheap.”

However, his perspective of inhalant abuse as a fun activity changed drastically after he “passed out while driving and totaled his car.”

The article then discusses a conversation with a local drug recognition expert. The expert notes there have been a number of “huffing and inhaling cases in Grand Island, many of which involve middle and high school students.” Additionally, “recently, he has seen kids as young as 9 or 10 years old using inhalants such as spray paints.” He states, “It’s likely the younger students are imitating their older peers or they simply think the products smell good and don't realize they are harming themselves.”

He also notes that he has worked on at least four vehicle accidents (including one fatality) where inhalant abuse was identified as a contributing factor. He expresses concern that there are more that occur but that inhalant abuse isn’t recognized.

We are very appreciative that Sgt. Hilderbrand took the time to point out that huffing from computer dusters is not harmless. He clarifies that it is not “just canned air” in the container. The product contains difluoroethane, “a chemical that causes a high by robbing the brain of oxygen.”

The article discusses the effects of using inhalants: long-term, irreversible organ damage and even death. The value and importance of family involvement in each case is also highlighted and state statues regarding inhalant abuse are identified: “according to state statute, it is unlawful for anyone to breathe, inhale or drink any compound, liquid or chemical containing a substance such as acetate, acetone or butyl alcohol for the purpose of inducing intoxication, stupefaction, giddiness, excitement or irrational behavior, or in any manner changing, distorting, or disturbing the auditory, visual, mental, or nervous processes.”

Men Steal Can of Duster From Kmart

From the Lufkin Daily News in Texas:

Police, responding to a call for shoplifting at Kmart, ended up arresting two men whom they found in a stolen minivan. The two men have been accused of stealing a can of computer duster valued at approximately $5.29 “apparently to use an inhalant to get high” one of the officers stated.

After allegedly stealing the duster, the men fled in the minivan. An officer followed the car but waited for back-up before pulling them over. The police report noted that the minivan had been stolen sometime the night before from a local dealership, where the owners had left it to have it serviced.

Increased Inhalant Use among Hopkington Schools in Massachusetts

From the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Massachusetts

The MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation sponsored a survey of regional teen health risks and the results were presented to the school committee last Thursday.

Interestingly, the survey notes that “after alcohol, inhalants are the most commonly abused substance for middle school students.” It continues, “the number of students trying inhalants at some point in their lives rose from 9 percent to 14 percent.

The Assistant Principal said the school is now looking at "how and why students are abusing substances and where they get their supplies."

CO2 Cartridges Used As Inhalant

From the Wheeling News Register in West Virginia

In this frightening article about a high school student accused of plotting to bomb his school, an interesting line:

“(He) argued the weapons and ammunition seized by police were locked in a closet at the home, and that the "explosive materials" were nothing more than a degreaser used to clean guns, a plastic tube purchased more than 20 years ago by his father - a former reserve police officer - and CO2 cartridges that he said were already opened and used as an intoxicating inhalant.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Teen Cited for Huffing at School

From the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska

Police in Lincoln, Nebraska have cited a 16 year old female on suspicion of huffing at school.

Last Wednesday afternoon, a health technician noticed the girl huffing from a canister in the school’s bathroom. When police reported to the room they found a can of computer dusting spray behind the toilet.

Alarmingly, police also noted that the teen ended up in the hospital in June for huffing in a grocery store bathroom.

37 Year Old Found Huffing Gold Paint

From the Newark Advocate in New Jersey

Yesterday, a 37 year old male appeared in court for a bond hearing. He was “charged with one count of abusing harmful intoxicants, a fifth-degree felony.”

Last month police found him huffing gold paint and he stated that he “has an illness and huffing helps to keep him grounded.” His bond was set at $5,000.