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Driver in fatal crash suspected of being under influence of nitrous oxide

November 21, 2010 | 11:56 am

A 20-year-old man was arrested Saturday in Santa Ana on suspicion of driving under the influence of nitrous oxide following a crash that killed a teenage passenger and injured two others, authorities said.

Jose Luis Gomez was traveling “at a high rate of speed” on Fairview Street near the intersection with MacArthur Boulevard when he lost control of his car and slammed into a tree in the median of the road, Santa Ana Police Commander Steve Colon said.

In addition to the teenage male who was killed, two other passengers were transported to a local hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening, Colon said. The identity of the deceased passenger was not released. 

Colon said officers believed Gomez’s command of the car was impaired after abusing nitrous oxide. Abuse of the inhalant can cause unconsciousness, disrupt heart rhythm and result in brain damage. It is often consumed with a “whippet,” a whipped-cream canister that uses the gas as a charger.

-- Garrett Therolf