Possible paint ‘huffer’ drives into ditch | AspenTimes.com

Possible paint ‘huffer’ drives into ditch

A 21-year-old man who drove his truck off of Highway 82 early Tuesday morning had a “green, crusty substance” on his lips and may have been “huffing” paint prior to driving, according to a police report.

The man was barefoot, disoriented and made numerous nonsensical statements after a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy found him about 6:30 a.m. still sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck, which was in a ditch near the airport, according to the report. Deputy Erin Smiddy had to point out the button that rolls down the driver’s side window because the man repeatedly kept opening the passenger window.

“I noticed that (the man) had a green, crusty substance all over his lips and his pupils were very small and constricted and his eyes were red and glossy,” Smiddy wrote in her report. “I immediately noticed that (the man) had slurred speech and was not speaking in complete or even logical sentences.”

The man was “very confused” about why the truck wouldn’t start, even after the deputy explained that his front right tire was shredded and down to the rim, the report states. He also said he was trying to call a friend to pick him up, though he had no phone on him.

“(The man) would start to talk, and then stop to ask me what we were talking about,” Smiddy’s report states.

The 21-year-old said he’d been coming from a friend’s house in Basalt, but didn’t know the friend’s name or address, the report states. He couldn’t find the door handle to get out of the truck without Smiddy’s assistance, then insisted he could still drive the truck despite the shredded tire, according to the report. The man had no shoes or wallet and was unsteady on his feet when he got out of the truck.

Later he said he was driving to work, then changed his story to say he was waiting by the side of the highway to pick his brother up from the airport, according to the report.

The man’s father told the deputy that his son was supposed to come home after hockey the night before and that he was worried about him.

“When I told (the father), I thought something was definitely off with his son and that he had a weird, green substance all around his mouth, (the father) immediately told me his son likes to ‘huff’ paint, among other substances,” the report states.

Smiddy took the man to the hospital for a blood test, then to jail where his father told the deputy he was trying to get his son help for substance abuse and other potential issues, the report states.

The man, who was released to his father, was charged with DUI.


Editor’s note: This story was amended in September 2021 in accordance with The Aspen Times’ “Right to be Forgotten” guidelines.

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