Driver tells police he had been huffing before crashing into Rexburg townhome
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REXBURG — A driver told police he passed out while under the influence before slamming a vehicle into a Rexburg townhouse.
According to the crash report obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Joseph W. Lake, 18, of Rigby, was driving the 1999 GMC Yukon involved in the crash. The crash report lists drugs as a contributing factor in the crash, and police have cited Lake with misdemeanor driving under the influence.
Police reports show around 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, a witness saw the SUV break through a vinyl fence separating the row of townhomes from the westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20. A survey of the scene led police to discover the vehicle smashed also through a 10-to-12-inch thick concrete wall reinforced with rebar and a second smaller fence.
Once through the fences, the Yukon struck a street sign, slammed into several parked vehicles and into an occupied townhouse.
Tho people inside the townhome were upstairs during the crash and weren’t hurt. First responders discovered Lake with a bone sticking out of his lower leg and rushed him to Madison Memorial Hospital. A teenage passenger in the car was unhurt. He told officers the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Police discovered two canisters of compressed air in the glovebox of the Yukon and didn’t believe the passenger’s story.
At the hospital, police conducted a blood draw and asked Lake to walk them through the night. During the interview with police, Lake reportedly told them he and the teen went to Walmart and purchased the compressed air canisters and cough medicine.
The officer asked Lake if he was huffing (inhaling the compressed air) at the time of the crash. Lake allegedly admitted to inhaling the compressed air and passing out behind the wheel. He denied using the cough medicine at all.
“Joseph told me he woke up to his friend shaking him and telling him they had crashed,” an officer wrote.
During a second interview with the passenger, the teen admitted to buying the compressed air to “huff.” He said he was the one who put the canisters into the glovebox “because they were going to huff it later.” When the officer suggested he was trying to hide the items, the teen stood by his story.
The crash report does not indicate results from the blood test. Rexburg Police Capt. Gary Hagen tells EastIdahoNews.com he has not heard word on the results.
Lake is scheduled for arraignment at the Madison County Courthouse on Dec. 10. He is not in custody.
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