MANCHESTER - Police arrested two drivers Tuesday morning after parked cars were hit in two separate crashes three blocks apart and within 20 minutes of each other. Each driver was charged with operating under the influence.
Lt. Maureen Tessier said it is unusual, but not unheard of, to make arrests for impaired driving in the morning.
Two arrests involving crashes so close together in both time and location, however, does not happen everyday.
In the first incident, reported at 10:05 a.m. at Chestnut and Cedar streets, police said Meghan Comer, 25, of 3030 Brown Ave. was "huffing" a can of compressed air when she sideswiped a parked vehicle and then rear-ended a second parked vehicle which sent her Hyundai Sonata crashing into a third parked vehicle.
A witness reported seeing the Hyundai drift into the parking lane north of the crash site before it drifted again into the parking lane and hit the cars.
Officer Walter Feldhouse found a can of compressed air in the front seat of Comer's car and determined she was impaired after "huffing" or inhaling compressed air just prior to the collision, according to police.
Comer was taken to the hospital from the accident scene and subsequently arrested for OUIL/OUID.
Lt. Maureen Tessier said the state's statutes were revised as of January to prohibit operating a vehicle while under the influence of chemical substances.
She said "huffing" compressed air is more common than one would think. "It's accessible to people and not illegal to possess, just illegal to use in that manner and drive a car," she said.
Inhaling compressed air can give a user an instant sense of euphoria.
The second crash happened 20 minutes later at 10:25 a.m. at 315 Cedar St., just east of Beech Street.
In that crash, Christian Toribio Viera, 32, of 94 Ashland St., was driving a Mazda Protege on Cedar Street when police said he hit a parked vehicle at 315 Cedar St. Police said Viera backed up the Mazda and appeared to be trying to leave the scene but then hit the same parked car a second time.
Just before the crash, according to police, another driver followed the car after seeing it operating erratically on Chestnut Street, running a red light on Lake Avenue.
An investigation revealed Viera had recently consumed several medications and possibly some illegal drugs, police said. He was arrested and charged with OUID. Police seized eight single pills that were in his pocket, which will be sent to the State Police laboratory for analysis.
Tessier said Viera was not injured in the accident but later was taken from the police station to a local hospital after he experienced a medical problem and was becoming unresponsive.