On Oct. 3, four people were killed in an SUV accident in Pittsburgh involving a camper and a motorcycle. The three occupants of the SUV, all 18 years old, died after their vehicle crossed the median of Interstate 79 and careened into an embankment. The driver of the motorcycle, a 47-year-old Canadian man, also died as a result of the accident.
Following an autopsy, police believe they know the cause of the crash. The investigation revealed that the teenagers may have been “huffing,” or inhaling computer cleaning spray while they were driving. Computer cleaning sprays commonly contain difluoroethane, a colorless gas that can produces a high when inhaled; all three teenagers tested positive for difluoroethane.
Some individuals, particularly teenagers and young adults, abuse household cleaning substances by inhaling them. This type of substance abuse in particular may cause long-term damage but can also lead to cardiac arrest and instant death. Police believe that the driver of the SUV inhaled the cleaning spray while driving and became disoriented due to lightheadedness, losing control of the vehicle.
DUI laws prohibit a person from driving when his or her ability to do so is impaired by any chemical substance. A person who violates these laws and causes an injury may be found to be negligent per se due to his illegal behavior. When the person who causes an injury is killed as a result, other victims may still file a claim against his or her estate for their damages. In addition, the owner of a vehicle may be held liable for any damages caused by the vehicle, even if that person was not the operator at the time of the accident.
Source: CBS Pittsburgh, “Police: Teens Huffed Cleaning Spray Before Greene Co. Crash,” CBS Pittsburgh, Jan. 14, 2013