'Huffing' cause of fatal Delco crash

By chillinwill · Sep 22, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Rachael Jankins initially told Upper Darby police that she was searching for her iPod last month when she veered off Lans-downe Avenue and onto the sidewalk, killing a Clifton Heights teenager and seriously injuring her friend.

    But the presence of difluoroethane in her blood and the discovery of a can of the computer-cleaning spray Dust-Off in her Hyundai Accent may tell a different story about the Aug. 14 crash outside Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

    Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. said yesterday that the toxicology results show that Jankins, 20, of Haverford, was huffing the compressed air and was "under the impairing and psychoactive effects" of the inhalant at the time of the accident.

    "We believe that at some point in time before the accident she took the can of Dust-Off and sprayed it in her mouth to get the effect of a high," Chitwood said. "We have now gone from a horrible accident to a criminal investigation."

    Attempts to reach Jankins and her family were unsuccessful.

    Nicole Gallo, 19, was killed instantly when the car crossed two lanes of traffic and drove onto the sidewalk. She graduated last year from Archbishop Prendergast High School, where she was known for her speed in the 100-meter hurdles, and was majoring in biology at Lebanon Valley College.

    Christine Bochanski, 20, of Lansdowne, suffered serious injuries, including a broken back, and was hospitalized for nearly two weeks.

    "She's doing miraculously well," said her mother, Renee Bochanski.

    Jankins has not been arrested, but she could face charges including vehicular homicide and manslaughter. At the time of the accident, she had an ominous quote on her Facebook page, since removed: "Those who do not fear death will never die."

    "She was whacked out when she was driving the car. Period," Chitwood said. "The kid did not have to die."

    Gallo's longtime friend Amanda Pace was devastated to hear yesterday's news.

    "All I do is cry," Pace said. "I went to the cemetery to let Nicole know. When I found out today in school, it hit me like a ton of bricks."

    In 1999, five Penncrest High School juniors were killed when a car driven by a 16-year-old struck a tree on Route 1 in Chester Heights. Dimitri Contostavlos, then the Delaware County medical examiner, found that the driver and three passengers had difluoroethane in their blood. An empty can of Dust-Off was in the car.

    Two years later, a 17-year-old Conestoga High School honors student was killed when the truck she was driving hit a tree in Tredyffrin Township. The Chester County coroner determined that she, too, had been inhaling the chemical.

    Contostavlos said yesterday that huffing and driving is a fatal combination.

    "If you take enough to get high," he said, "you'd be dangerous at the wheel."

    September 10, 2009
    Philadelphia Daily News

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  1. Coconut
    Another victim of someone else's idiocy, assuming of course that the driver was actually inhaling difluoroethane.
  2. I<3Salvia
    Yeah, swim hopes that there is actually some truth to this report and not just some new junk concocted by the press. It does no one any good to make accusations without conclusive evidence. Drug user witch hunts are getting old.
  3. MarkyMayhem
    I would tend to think hyperbole on some level.....
    Replace empty dust-off can with blunt-roach and diflouroethane in blood with THC metabolites, and everyone would be saying she could have smoked pot anytime. I don't know how long the dust-off stays detectable, but think it's safe to say that given Dust-Off's very short action of duration it is entierly possible that the driver could have been doing the huffing prior driving, and is "just" an inattentive inexperienced driver who did something ASININE - bending over for a damn I-Pod and killing someone.

    Innocent until proven guilty, anyone? She said she bent over for the I-Pod. She may be telling the truth, she might not be.

    SWIM thinks that anyone who has huffed 'Duster' except for the most idiotic wastrel would know it damn near makes one pass out, unable to see clearly, dizzy, light headed etc. and would possess the minimal ammount of inteligence needed to know that driving properly in that state is near impossible and attempting it is near suicidal. That combined with the short duration of action means that even the most degenerate Duster-fiend could simply pull over for literally a minute, do their hit, wait till they can see and be on their way.

    For those reasons, SWIM thinks she likely 'huffed' before driving, and while she was possibly suffering aftereffects, the I-Pod search was likely the primary cause of the accident, as the driver stated.

    Either way, she did something STUPID. Either way, she killed someone, and injured herself grievously. And either way she has to deal with the consequences for the rest of her life.
  4. kailey_elise
    One might think that, but one would, unfortunately, be completely fucking wrong, as witnessed years ago with "airbrush propellant".

    I couldn't get out of that car fast enough. And from what I understand, it wasn't uncommon or limited to that particular driver.

    This was 16 years ago...the driver was about the same age as the driver in the OP.


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