Tear gas residue sickens couple after they rent truck deputies used

January 18, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel County couple who rented a truck to move furniture became ill from tear gas residue, a sheriff's spokesman said yesterday. The vehicle had been used by Harford County sheriff's deputies to provide tear gas training for recruits, he said.

The couple had a reaction to tear gas residue, a powder similar in appearance to concrete mix, after they used a broom to sweep the back of the truck Jan. 10, two days after the tear gas training, said Sgt. Edward Hopkins, the spokesman.

"They called 911 and were treated at the scene by Anne Arundel Fire Department personnel. They refused further medical treatment," Sergeant Hopkins said.

He declined to identify the couple.

He said Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows became concerned about the couple's condition when Anne Arundel hazardous materials officials called Jan. 10 to confirm their suspicions after learning that the Harford sheriff's office had previously rented the truck, the sergeant said.

"The couple is very satisfied with the way we handled the matter," Sergeant Hopkins said. "Deputies from our office brought the truck back to Harford County and cleaned it properly.

"The Maryland Police Training Commission requires that all recruits experience the use of the tear gas, so they will know how it affects people on whom they may someday have to use it."

In past training sessions, the sergeant said, the sheriff's office conducted its tear gas training at a local military installation, but the facility was not available this time.

Sergeant Hopkins said a deputy cleaning the truck "hosed it out and allowed it to air dry. Apparently, the truck was closed up before the drying was complete."

He said the tear gas, stored in canisters, had been diluted for the training.

"Some of the residue got into the cracks of the truck's flooring, and once the truck dried, a residue remained," he said.

Sergeant Hopkins declined to identify the rental agent and would not name the deputy who had cleaned the truck.

"The deputy thought he had cleaned it properly and did not see any residue when he finished the job," the sergeant said.

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