- The following warning (verified by PoliceOne) was forwarded
to us by P-1 member Harold Gray, an agent with the Mississippi Bureau of
Narcotics, in response to a request made by its author Jeff Williams, a
police officer in East Cleveland, Ohio. Jeff's 14-year-old son, Kyle, was
tragically killed three months ago after inhaling the contents of a can
of Dust-Off, a widely sold compressed air product. Please take serious
note of this warning for the safety of your own children and make an effort
to spread the word.
- Also note the heroism here. Even in the midst of crushing
personal tragedy, Jeff instinctively does what a true police officer is
driven to do: Keep others safe. Cleveland "Plain Dealer" columnist
Connie Schultz, who attended Kyle's funeral and wrote about it in one of
her pieces, made this observation the day of the service, "Jeff Williams
sat a few feet away from his 14-year-old son's open casket on Monday [3/7/05]
and talked about saving other children's lives. Most parents can't focus
beyond their own grief in the wake of such a loss, but Williams is not
like most parents. He's an East Cleveland police officer, and he's seen
too many kids die too many ways. This is how he copes, pulling threads
of hope from unraveling lives."
- Read the column. Our deepest sympathies
go out to Jeff and his wife, Kathy. We hope you can find peace in knowing
that your efforts will save others.
- Jeff's Message
- First I'm going to tell you a little about me and my
family. My name is Jeff. I am a Police Officer for a city which is known
nationwide for its crime rate. We have a lot of gangs and drugs. At one
point we were number two in the nation in homicides per capita. I also
have a police K-9 named Thor. He was certified in drugs and general duty.
He retired at three years old because he was shot in the line of duty.
He lives with us now and I still train with him because he likes it. I
always liked the fact that there was no way to bring drugs into my house.
Thor wouldn't allow it. He would tell on you. The reason I say this is
so you understand that I know about drugs. I have taught in schools about
drugs. My wife asks all our kids at least once a week if they used any
drugs. Makes them promise they won't.
- I like building computers occasionally and started building
a new one in February 2005. I also was working on some of my older computers.
They were full of dust so on one of my trips to the computer store I bought
a 3 pack of DUST OFF. Dust Off is a can of compressed air to blow dust
off a computer. A few weeks later when I went to use them they were all
used. I talked to my kids and my two sons both said they had used them
on their computer and were messing around with them. I yelled at them for
wasting the 10 dollars I paid for them. On Feb. 28 I went back to the computer
store. They didn't have the three-pack I had bought on sale so I bought
a single jumbo can of Dust Off. I went home and set it down beside my computer.
- On March 1 I left for work at 10 p.m. At 11 p.m. my wife
went down and kissed Kyle goodnight. At 5:30 a.m. the next morning Kathy
went downstairs to wake Kyle up for school before she left for work. He
was sitting up in bed with his legs crossed and his head leaning over.
She called to him a few times to get up. He didn't move. He would sometimes
tease her like this and pretend he fell back asleep. He was never easy
to get up. She went in and shook his arm. He fell over. He was pale white
and had the straw from the Dust Off can coming out of his mouth. He had
the new can of Dust Off in his hands. Kyle was dead.
- I am a police officer and I had never heard of this.
My wife is a nurse and she had never heard of this. We later found out
from the coroner, after the autopsy, that only the propellant from the
can of Dust off was in his system. No other drugs. Kyle had died between
midnight and 1 a.m. I found out that using Dust Off is being done mostly
by kids ages 9 through 15. They even have a name for it - it's called dusting,
a take off from the Dust Off name. It gives them a slight high for about
10 seconds. It makes them dizzy. A boy who lives down the street from us
showed Kyle how to do this about a month before. Kyle showed his best friend,
told him it was cool and it couldn't hurt you. It's just compressed air.
It can't hurt you. His best friend said 'no.'
- Kyle was wrong. It's not just compressed air. It also
contains a propellant. I think its R2. It's a refrigerant like what is
used in your refrigerator. It is a heavy gas. Heavier than air. When you
inhale it, it fills your lungs and keeps the good air, with oxygen, out.
That's why you feel dizzy, buzzed. It decreases the oxygen to your brain,
to your heart. Kyle was right. It can't hurt you. IT KILLS YOU. The horrible
part about this is there is no warning. There is no level that kills you.
It's not cumulative or an overdose; it can just go randomly, terribly wrong.
Roll the dice and if your number comes up you die. IT'S NOT AN OVERDOSE.
It's Russian roulette. You don't die later. Or not feel good and say I've
had too much. You usually die as you're breathing it in. If not you die
within 2 seconds of finishing "the hit." That's why the straw
was still in Kyle's mouth when he died. Why his eyes were still open.
- The experts want to call this huffing. The kids don't
believe its huffing. As adults we tend to lump many things together. But
it doesn't fit here. And that's why it's more accepted. There is no chemical
reaction. No strong odor. It doesn't follow the huffing signals. Kyle complained
a few days before he died of his tongue hurting. It probably did. The propellant
causes frostbite. If I had only known.
- It's easy to say 'hey, it's my life and I'll do what
I want.' But it isn't. Others are always affected. This has forever changed
our family's life. I have a hole in my heart and soul that can never be
fixed. The pain is so immense I can't describe it. There's nowhere to run
from it. I cry all the time and I don't ever cry. I do what I'm supposed
to do but I don't really care. My kids are messed up. One won't talk about
it. The other will only sleep in our room at night. And my wife, I can't
even describe how bad she is taking this. I thought we were safe because
of Thor. I thought we were safe because we knew about drugs and talked
to our kids about them.
- After Kyle died another story came out. A Probation Officer
went to the school system next to ours to speak with a student. While there
he found a student using Dust Off in the bathroom. This student told him
about another student who also had some in his locker. This is a rather
affluent school system. They will tell you they don't have a drug problem
there. They don't even have a DARE or PLUS program there. So rather than
tell everyone about this "new" way of getting high they found,
they hid it. The probation officer told the media after Kyle's death and
they, the school, then admitted to it. I know that if they would have told
the media and I had heard, it wouldn't have been in my house.
- We need to get this out of our homes and school computer
- Using Dust Off isn't new and some "professionals"
do know about. It just isn't talked about much, except by the kids. They
know about it.
- April 2 was one month since Kyle died. April 5 would
have been his fifteenth birthday. And every weekday I catch myself sitting
on the living room couch at 2:30 in the afternoon and waiting to see him
get off the bus. I know Kyle is in heaven but I can't help but wonder if
I died and went to Hell.