Pleasant Hill Hazmat Mystery Solved

Friday, Oct 2, 2009  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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Pleasant Hill Hazmat Mystery Solved

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A teenager who was found dead in an apartment in Pleasant Hill on Thursday appears to have killed himself by mixing chemicals and inhaling the lethal gas they produced, Contra Costa County coroner's investigator Guy Worth said.

The death prompted a three-hour shelter-in-place order for nearby residents and sent three people to the hospital, fire officials said.
      
Police received a call at about 10:50 a.m. from someone reporting a deceased male in an apartment in the Briarwood Apartment complex at 141 Golf Club Road.

When officers arrived, they found the 18-year-old Pleasant Hill resident and smelled a strong chemical odor in the apartment. They called the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District's hazardous materials team for help.

Hazardous materials experts issued a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents while they identified the gas and ventilated the apartment, fire Marshal Richard Carpenter said.

The three people who were transported to the hospital said they had trouble breathing and were sent to the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez as a precaution, Carpenter said.

The shelter-in-place order was lifted at about 2 p.m., Carpenter said.

Guy Worth, an investigator with the Contra Costa County coroner's office, said the teenager appears to have mixed chemicals together to produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be fatal if breathed in an enclosed space.

Judy Hampshire, director of the Contra Costa Crisis Center's Crisis Line/211, said there are about 100 suicides each year in the county, but most of them don't need to happen.

"Most people who are suicidal don't want to die. They want to stop the pain," Hampshire said.
      
She added that "most people who are suicidal can go on to lead very productive and rewarding lives."
      
The crisis center has trained staff members and volunteers available 24 hours a day to help people who are feeling suicidal.
      
People who suspect that someone else might be suicidal can also call for advice on how to help that person.

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