Alton bans sale of ‘bath salts’ after woman overdoses, dies

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KMOV.com

Posted on April 27, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 28 at 5:10 AM

ALTON, Ill. (KMOV) – A few hours after a 28-year-old woman from Alton, Illinois overdosed and died from a drug legally sold as bath salts, Alton city leaders banned the possession and sale of the product.

Police say they plan to give stores no more than a few days to get the bath salts off store shelves.

The bath salts are sold legally in most communities, and a disclaimer says it is not meant for human consumption. But Alton police say snorting or smoking the chemicals inside mimic the effects of cocaine and meth.

The Alton Police Department responded to a drug overdose call around 10 a.m. Tuesday in the 400 block of Brookside. And in the hours before Tonia Whitehead, 28, lost consciousness in her Alton home, police say she went on a two-day bath salt binge.

Her family believes the binge was fueled by grief over the loss of a young son three years ago.

After she was found, Whitehead was transported to an Alton hospital and remained in critical condition throughout the day and night on Tuesday. Shortly before noon Wednesday she died.

The investigation revealed that the victim had ingested "bath salt" which was purchased from the Broadway Package Liquor Store in the 2700 block of East Broadway.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the liquor store and recovered substantial amounts of "bath salts" and financial records associated with the sale of "bath salts." Additional evidence at the liquor store revealed a back room illegal gambling operation with video games.

The store employees and an acquaintance to the victim were taken into custody.

The investigation now focuses on those responsible for the sale, transfer, or facilitation of the substance that caused the death of the victim.

An autopsy and toxicology tests are pending. Criminal charges are pending.

Police say if they find that the store knowingly sold bath salts to Tonia and her friend for human consumption, employees could face charges in her death.

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