Three separate cases of “huffing” air duster were handled by the Batesville Police Department over the weekend.
The cases went from a 13-year-old juvenile to a 52-year-old woman.
On Friday afternoon, June 22, Batesville Police officers were notified by local citizens that they observed a man driving down the road huffing air duster and driving erratically. The citizens themselves actually stopped the vehicle on the side of the road and called dispatch. Officers Mike Mundy, Amber Branscum, and Arkansas State Trooper Dustin Carpenter arrived on scene.
The suspect, 34-year-old Patrick N. Toney of Eureka Springs, told officers he just bought the can of compressed air to clean out his car, and he was not huffing it. With the help of a K-9, a search of the vehicle found numerous empty air duster cans in a shopping bag located in the trunk. Toney was taken to jail and charged with breathing, or inhaling an intoxicating compound.
The second case involved 52-year-old Kelly L. Bell of Sulphur Rock who was taken into custody following an automobile accident at the White River Medical Center Emergency Room parking area and then leaving the scene, according to authorities.
Officer Shane Hightower said shortly before 1a.m., he stopped the vehicle on Lawrence Street. He said he did not see any clues indicating intoxication of the suspect Bell. Bell informed the officer she was going to a local fast food restaurant to purchase food for her and her daughter, who was in the hospital. Bell claimed to Hightower that she was trying to circle the hospital in order to tell someone about the accident. Police say Bell hit the parked car, knocking it into the wall of the hospital. A computer check found Bell to be driving on a suspended license. Officer Hightower also noted that he observed a can of air duster in plain view on top of some luggage in the backseat. He retrieved the can which was cold to the touch, indicating that it had recently been used. The can also appeared to be empty, Hightower noted.
Bell later admitted that she had huffed the air duster at some point in the parking area while leaving and struck the victim’s vehicle, which in turn, struck the hospital outside wall, causing an amount of damage to the wall and a window, according to Hightower.
Bell was cited for breathing or inhaling an intoxicating compound, not remaining at the scene of an accident, and no proof of liability insurance — all misdemeanors. Bell was transported to the Jackson County Jail for incarceration.
The third incident involved a 13-year-old boy. Off-duty Sgt. Rick Davis was in Walmart when he was made aware of a young teenager in the restroom acting in a very disorderly manner — yelling and foaming at the mouth. Davis came up to the boy who began inhaling more air duster.
Officer Marcus Willingham, who was dispatched to the scene as an on-duty officer, took the juvenile into a back office to contact his guardian.
The guardian, who was in the store, came to the office, Willingham said, and stated that the juvenile is on house arrest and probation, and she did not want to deal with him anymore. The officer said he asked the juvenile why he was inhaling air duster, and the juvenile said his friend told him it makes you feel good, so he wanted to try it.
Officer Willingham said he attempted to make contact with the Juvenile Intake Officer, but no one answered. He issued a citation for the juvenile, and he was released to the custody of his guardian.
We decided to bring you these stories after an officer at the Batesville Police Department said he had read a comment made on Facebook.
The commenter noted, “…stores should just quit selling air duster and that would stop people from getting high or getting hurt by ‘huffing’ it.”
“Well, people get killed in automobile accidents, should we stop selling cars?” the officer asked.
The point being: solutions to such problems do not come easy.
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