BRENTWOOD, Mo. – Two St. Louis County police officers were hospitalized after being exposed to a dangerous drug.
The incident unfolded near Eager and S. Hanley roads in Brentwood. Two St. Louis County police officers, who were working a MetroLink security detail, observed a vehicle leave the scene of an accident and conducted a traffic stop.
The vehicle was driving erratically and the county officers pulled the vehicle over in front of the Best Buy store.
“These people were shopping today and the vehicle pulled right in the middle of a shopping area that had a highly deadly substance in it,” said Hazardous Material Team spokesman Mike Thiemann.
The officers observed a broken capsule in the vehicle, at which point the driver ran from the SUV. The officers chased after the driver and apprehended the person.
“(The officers) discovered a pill had broken open. At that point, the officer began to experience some symptoms -- numbness and tingling in fingers and hands, and maybe a little lightness in their heads,” said Brentwood Fire Chief Terry Kurten.
The Brentwood Fire Department responded to the scene before calling in the Metro West Fire Protection District's hazmat team to examine the officers and secure the area.
The officers were transported to a local hospital.
A decontamination zone was cordoned off to keep everyone safe. The hazardous material team from St. Louis County began sifting through evidence inside the car to determine what the drug was.
“It was a positive hit for fentanyl, which is a highly, highly dangerous drug that can be absorbed or inhaled,” Thiemann said.
He said it takes only a tiny bit of the drug to kill. The two officers were treated and released from the hospital.
The suspect, 40-year-old Clinton Seifert of Florissant, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DWI possession, and assault.
Fentanyl exposure by first responders seems to be more common. Police departments like Brentwood train to be safe.
"You could be exposed and in a matter of seconds later need to go to the hospital or else you’ll die. It is that severe,” said Brentwood Police Major Angela Hawkins.