By Ed Runyan
Three Campbell patrol officers were blasted with fumes from a mobile meth lab in the trunk of a car they stopped on Reed Avenue on Saturday morning.
The fumes knocked Patrolman Robert Curtis to the ground and caused burns to his esophagus and that of two other patrolmen with him, Chief Drew Rauzan said.
All three, along with two suspects inside the vehicle, were decontaminated in a Mahoning County HazMat tent erected along Reed Avenue. The five then were taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center for treatment.
Reed Avenue and portions of 11th Street were closed to traffic while HazMat workers set up on Reed Avenue and neutralized the chemicals.
Curtis and the two other patrolmen, Eric Manning and Dave Smith, were released from the hospital several hours later. None of the three is expected to have any long-term ill effects and should be back on the job today, Rauzan said
The two suspects, Jean A. Hartzell, 36, of Pittsburgh, and Jeremy T. Bower, 30, of Peace Valley Road in Rogers, will be picked up by Campbell police when they are ready to leave St. Elizabeth’s and will face several drug-related charges, Rauzan added.
The suspects said they were living in Rogers, Rauzan said.
Sgt. John Ruznak said he doesn’t recall the department ever having uncovered a methamphetamine lab in Campbell — mobile or otherwise — during the 15 years he’s been with the department.
The officers, members of the Campbell Special Investigative Unit narcotics team, made a traffic stop on the gray Chevrolet Cobalt Hartzell and Bower were in at 11:30 a.m. for failing to stop at a stop sign at Reed Avenue and 11th Street.
Storm, Campbell’s police dog, was deployed to sniff the vehicle, and indicated that he detected narcotics, so officers opened the trunk, Rauzan said.
Inside, they found the materials used in the cold-cooking process of making crystal meth — chemicals inside of several plastic jugs.
The decontamination process involves removing the individual’s clothing, bagging the clothing and washing the individual’s body to remove the contamination.
The Campbell Fire Department assisted.