Learning From Bath Salt Tragedies

The nation has been buzzing about bath salts a synthetic drug with extremely adverse effects since the news story broke about Rudy Eugene, the “Miami Zombie” that chewed the face of a homeless man, Ronald Poppo, in Miami last May.

It was suspected that Eugene was under the influence of bath salts because of paraphernalia found in his clothing and his violently psychotic behavior. However, a toxicology report released last week deemed otherwise – claiming only marijuana was found in his system. Some experts assert that there are thousands of drugs out there that cannot yet be tested which could explain his behavior. Because the main compounds associated with bath salts have been banned, chemists are creating new compounds with similar effects to stay ahead of the law.

Regardless of what sparked the “Miami zombie” attack, there have been countless horror stories across the nation associated with bath salts – one in particular occurred close to home, in western Colorado. Last April 19 year old Daniel Richards from Grand Junction Colorado had a violent outbreak at a party while high on bath salts. He had a large knife and was threatening people with it when a friend attempted to restrain him. Upon his second attempt, Richards fell unconscious and was pronounced dead from strangulation after being on life support for a few days.

Just yesterday, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger announced that there would be no indictment for the friend that tried to restrain Richards.  Hautzinger stated, “It was not a criminal act. I will not file criminal charges,” explaining “If I had a situation where someone was putting a choke hold on someone else who wasn’t being violent or tweaked out on drugs … or out of his gourd, as it were, then yes, we’d certainly be looking at manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.”

Investigators on the case said Richards purchased hundreds of dollars worth of bath salts before the party where he was restrained. According to the coroner, one of the main chemicals found in bath salts, Alpha-PVP, was found in his system.

Colorado Legislature passed a law banning possession and sale of “bath salts” products on June 7, 2012 – just two months after Richard’s death. The ban came after nearly 50 bath salts related reports to Poison Control Centers in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it wasn’t able to deem bath salts as the culprit for other deaths in the state, but they believe Richards’ death is the first bath salts related death in western Colorado. As District Attorney Hautzinger said, the Richard’s case “was absolutely a tragedy. This was a death that did not need to happen.”
These tragedies can hopefully serve as an eye opener to those at risk for using bath salts and other drugs. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to bath salts or any other substance, Harmony’s addiction treatment center in Colorado can help.