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Dickinson teen who caused citywide power outage was huffing during crash into power pole

Crash caused by huffing

A Dickinson teen who crashed into a power pole Tuesday and caused a power outage across much of the city had been huffing canned air when she blacked out, according to the Dickinson Police Department.

Hanna Rose Brown, 18, is charged with not wearing a seat belt, reckless driving and the inhalation of vapors and volatile chemicals, Lt. Rod Banyai said. "She actually says that she blacked out while she was driving," he added.

Dr. Brian O'Hara said he is not surprised that Brown blacked out. The pediatrician at Great Plains Clinic, P.C., in Dickinson, said sniffing or huffing chemicals to get high can cause seizures, brain damage and death from the toxic ingredients.

Authorities believe Brown's vehicle veered off 21st Street East and into the pole. Brown was reportedly the only person involved in the crash.

The impact did not knock the pole over, but damaged it and totaled Brown's car.

"It's my understanding they used the Jaws of Life to get her out," Banyai said.

Brown was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Dickinson, but was later taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck. She was still there Wednesday evening.

The power outage lasted about 30 minutes and affected about 5,100 Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. customers, according to the company.

The incident caused a fault in one of the company's main lines that feeds power into three substations.

O'Hara said huffing is most popular among preteens and teens and causes euphoria.

"Typically, the brain responds by saying 'I want to do that again,' so huffing is considered fairly addictive," O'Hara said. "People get dumber from it."

He said common effects are apathy, loss of cognitive reasoning skills, personality changes and people are often left in a stupor.

Dr. Kamille Sherman from the Dickinson Clinic said a high from huffing can last a few moments or the abuser can prolong the high by huffing more.

"But long-term damage can be life-long," Sherman said.

Someone who answered the phone in Brown's hospital room Wednesday night said Brown would not comment.