August 18, 1997 in Nation/World

Chemical Vapors Send Girl To Kmc, Man To Jail Hazardous Materials Team Called In; Chemicals Seized In Arrest On I-90

By The Spokesman-Review

A Hayden man sat in the Kootenai County Jail on Sunday after allegedly starting a chemical reaction inside a house here - sending a 14-year-old girl to the hospital and police and hazardous materials crews scrambling.

Kevin Morriston, 29, was arrested Saturday night while driving east on Interstate 90 near Kellogg. He was booked on charges of felony cruelty to children.

Law enforcement officials confiscated a type of acid and acetone from a U-haul truck Morriston was driving to Montana, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Department reported. Those chemicals can be used to manufacture methamphetamine, officials said.

Since the chemicals were confiscated by the Idaho Criminal Investigation Bureau, it isn’t known yet if drug charges will be filed, said Shoshone sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Gunderson.

Although the girl overcome by vapors was treated at Kootenai Medical Center and released, the cleanup of the home and the U-Haul took authorities from the state and two counties, and shut down a part of Interstate 90 near Kellogg for five hours.

“It was quite exciting,” said Ed Cochran, who lives next to the house where it all started on the East 200 block of Hayden Avenue.

At about 5 p.m., firefighters from Hayden were called to a house Morriston had been living in, said a Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department statement. Deputies determined there was a chemical reaction, but no fire.

A state hazardous materials team and the state Criminal Investigation Bureau were called, and the 14-year-old girl was taken to the hospital, reports said.

“There must have been a dozen vehicles here,” neighbor Cochran said. “They had tape across my yard.” About a half-block of Hayden was cordoned off.

Neighbors were told to close their windows to avoid breathing the fumes. “Every once in awhile, you could catch a whiff of something,” said another neighbor, Shadra Brown.

Cochran, Brown and others watched as people in plastic suits entered the house. When the haz-mat team members emerged, they would hose off their yellow and blue suits in large, wooden troughs, neighbors said. The cleanup lasted until 9 or 10 p.m. All that was left of it Sunday was a pair of blue gloves in the front yard, said reports.

“They were spraying their suits and stuff,” Brown said. “They were taking their blood pressure.”

Meanwhile, state troopers and deputies in the Silver Valley searched for Morriston after getting information that he might be connected to the fumes. He was pulled over at 5:45 p.m. while driving a U-Haul and hauling a primer-colored Camaro behind it.

“We had people from all over … ISP, Kootenai County, Criminal Investigation Bureau,” said a Shoshone County dispatcher. “And we had Pinehurst, Osburn and Kellogg police assist with traffic.”

There were about 10 deputies from Shoshone County alone, Cpl. Gunderson said. Fearing a chemical explosion, officials blocked off the eastbound lanes until about 10 p.m.

“You mix some of that stuff together without the coolants,” a Shoshone dispatcher said, “it goes boom.”

The truck - filled mostly with Morriston’s personal belongings, but also some chemicals - was slowly unloaded, reports said. No one answered the door of the Hayden Avenue home on Sunday. Neighbors said Morriston lived there, but was evicted when the owner of the home - neighbors said his aunt - suspected he was involved with drugs.

, DataTimes

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