Report: Teens huffing prior to fatal crash

January 14, 2013
This was the scene last October of a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 79 near the Ruff Creek exit in which four people died, including three Greene County teenagers. - Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

State police Monday said the three Greene County teenagers killed in an accident Oct. 3 on Interstate 79 had purchased a can of compressed air cleaner and were inhaling its contents as they drove up the interstate.

According to police, the coroner’s report said that the substance, Difluroethane, a colorless gas used in the propellant of computer cleaning spray, was found in the system of Cullin Frazer, 18, of Waynesburg; Benjamin Hardy, 18, of Waynesburg; and Byron Kerr, 18, of Carmichaels. Inhalants, such as Difluroethane, induce lightheadedness, drowsiness and a loss of inhibition, an effect that may be similar to alcohol intoxication, according to the report.

In higher concentrations, Pathologist Cyril Wecht said, Difluroethane can lead to cardiac dysrhythmias and sudden death.

Frazer, the operator of the sport utility vehicle, was traveling north when the SUV he was driving traveled up one side of the median, overturned and rolled down the other side into the southbound lanes, hitting a truck and a motorcycle. At that section of highway, the median is a large mound that separates north and southbound lanes.

Motorcyclist Michael Cohen, 47, of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, also was killed in the accident. Cohen’s wife, Sandra Cohen, 48, who was a passenger on the motorcycle, as well as three passengers in the SUV, Justin Gillogly, 16; Thomas Miller, 16; and Joseph Lilley, 18, all of Waynesburg, were treated for their injuries and released. The police investigation does not say whether any subtances were ingested by Gillogly, Miller or Lilley.

Police said Michael Cohen had no impairing substances in his system.



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