Driver Suspected of DUI After Laughing Gas Found in SUV Following Crash Into Tree

All six passengers in the vehicle were listed in stable condition at a nearby hospital.

A suspected 18-year-old drunk driver in an SUV triggered a single-vehicle crash on Saturday in Fountain Valley, smashing into a tree and then a light pole, after which authorities found a tank of nitrous oxide - or laughing gas -inside the vehicle, a police sergeant said.

"From what I understand, the way it (the gas) was recovered from the vehicle, it was not attached to anything," Fountain Valley Police Sgt. Jennifer Pratt said. "It was probably used as an illicit drug, in this instance."

The gas is filled into small balloons and inhaled by users giving them a "temporary, euphoric high - and unconsciousness," Pratt said.

The driver, Alex Nieves, was going southbound on Harbor Boulevard a little after midnight, near Lilac Avenue, where he lost control of the SUV, hit a tree and then a light pole, she said.

All six occupants inside the SUV, who ranged from 18 to their mid-20s, had a variety of injuries and were listed in stable condition at an area hospital, she said.

Two of the six injuries were critical, the Orange County Register reported.

"It sounds like most of them were under the influence of a variety of substances," Pratt told the Register.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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