Huffing gas killed 14-year-old in Aleknagik, say troopers

Sep 25, 2017

The teenage boy was found in a skiff down by the city dock, slumped over next to an open can of gas troopers believe he was huffing. The state medical examiner will conduct an autopsy.

KDLG: A 14-year-old died this weekend in Aleknagik apparently after huffing gasoline. State troopers say they were notified Friday evening that the teenager was missing, and by late that night he was found in a skiff down by the city dock.

Troopers say he was slumped over next to the open can of gasoline. An autopsy was ordered, but troopers believe huffing gas led to the boy's death.

This past July a 17-year-old Togiak teenager died after huffing gas, and two years ago a 14-year-old in Togiak drowned after huffing gas with his friends. At that time Doctor Cathy Hyndman from the Kanakanak Hospital spoke with KDLG about the dangers of getting high with inhalants.

"There are several things that can happen with huffing. The most serious is that it can cause a fatal heart rhythm, and that could happen with the first inhale. So you could huff once and be dead. That is not terrifically common, and it could happen on the tenth huff or the hundredth huff, you just don’t know," she said.

The high from huffing resembles that of alcohol, but can wear off in a matter of minutes. Sometimes that encourages the abuser to continue huffing for extended periods of time, which she said can be extremely dangerous as it starves the body of oxygen. 

"If you are persistently breathing something that is not oxygen, you can wind up having brain damage from that. You can wind up having liver or kidney damage from that, because, the body needs oxygen," said Dr. Hyndman.

dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281