BY MICHELLE GANASSI
Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)
A Ligonier man faces charges of risking a catastrophe after police in Somerset County said they found him trying to kill himself with a deadly gas created from household chemicals.
Somerset Borough police Chief Randy Cox said the man, who he declined to identify, created hydrogen sulfide by mixing two unnamed household cleaners together.
The man parked his truck in the parking lot of Somerset Industrial Park about 9 a.m. Saturday, in front of the Department of Public Welfare. He placed a sign on his truck that said “call hazmat.”
When police arrived the man had a jug of the chemical and was outside the vehicle.
“He was in the process of attempting suicide when officers took him into custody,” Cox told the Somerset Daily American.
The man was transported to a Pittsburgh hospital to be treated for exposure to the gas. Cox said officers were treated at Somerset Hospital for brief exposure to the gas.
“They had secondary exposure,” he said.
Cox said police plan to charge the man, who has a Ligonier address, with recklessly endangering another person and causing or risking a catastrophe.
“At the point that charges are filed his name will be released,” Cox added.
The truck was decontaminated early Saturday afternoon by the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department’s hazmat team and a private company approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. It has since been towed and remains in police custody.
The act is known as “detergent suicide.” According to published reports, there have been several incidents where people have attempted or succeeded in killing themselves by mixing the chemicals then posting signs on their vehicles warning first responders of the deadly gas that filled up their car.
Cox credited state police and Somerset County 911 with giving valuable assistance in handling the situation.
Cox could not be reached for additional comment on Sunday. No one answered the phone at the borough’s police department.
A check of online criminal charges indicated the Ligonier man has not yet been charged.
Michelle Ganassi is a reporter for the Somerset Daily American.