Most people think of drunk driving when it comes to car accidents. However, other substances can lead to impaired driving. Huffing is one of them. It led to a tragic hit-and-run that killed three Girl Scouts and a mother, and the driver may not be the only one facing charges.
A fatal hit and run killed 3 girl scouts and a mother
A group of Girl Scouts and parent chaperones were picking up litter along a road in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin on Nov. 3, 2018. That’s when a pickup truck slammed into them and took off. The impact killed three of the girls and a mother and left another girl with life-altering injuries, reports Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
The man driving was 21-year-old Colton Treu. In March 2020, he was sentenced to 51 years in prison for punching the group, leaving the scene, and hiding his Ford F-150 to cover up his crime. Five hours after the fatal hit-and-run, he surrendered. He admitted to police that he was under the influence of Ultra Duster, a compressed spray used to clean computer keyboards, which he deliberately inhaled to get high.
Treu passenger John Stender was charged and convicted of helping Treu hide his truck after the accident, according to WEAU News. On September 17, 2021, he was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervision.
“Killed in the November 3 crash that drew national attention, Jayna Kelley, 9, and Autumn Helgeson, 10, both of Lake Hallie, and Haylee Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider , 32, both of Chippewa County. city of Lafayette,” Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported. “Another Girl Scout, 10-year-old Madalyn Zwiefelhofer, was also seriously injured in the crash.”
Victims’ relatives are suing Walmart for allegedly selling the product that led to the hit-and-run
Although the two men involved in the crash have been tried and convicted, the families of the victims still believe that other parties should be held accountable for their role in the tragedy, reports WQOW News. That’s why they’re suing Walmart, which allegedly sold the Ultra Duster spray to Treu.
According to Bloomberg Law, Walmart tried to have the lawsuit dismissed but failed. The case will therefore move forward.
Additionally, Top Class Actions reports that there is another lawsuit against Walmart over the sale of Ultra Duster. A man named Tyler Harmon hit a mother and young daughter head-on. Although both survived, the mother has to use a wheelchair and the daughter has undergone numerous surgeries. Now they’re suing Walmart because evidence suggests Ultra Duster has been used to get high since 2008, but it’s still being sold in stores without any restrictions.
Blowing and driving is extremely dangerous
Years ago, kids had to sneak out to buy drugs. Now they can walk into a big box store and buy aerosols.
According to the National Institutes of Health, inhalants are used to get high by breathing in a substance. This can include anything that can become a gas at room temperature, aerosols, and even nitrites prescribed for chest pain. These inhalants can be found in cleaning fluids, spray paints, and even markers.
The fact that they’re so easy to get could be why teens and tweens are angry. The high does not last long. In fact, it only takes a few minutes. This leads users to puff more to maintain their high. It alters the mind by affecting the central nervous system and slowing brain activity.
Side effects of the breath include delusions, hallucinations, dizziness, vomiting, drowsiness, and headaches. Long-term use can lead to hearing loss, nerve damage, loss of coordination, limb spasms, liver and kidney damage, delayed behavioral development, bone marrow damage, and brain damage.
For people addicted to inhalants, cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational prompts are effective forms of treatment.
Blowing by itself is dangerous, but it can become even more deadly when combined with driving.
How to get help: In the United States, contact the Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
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