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Officials Explain HazMat Response to Suicide Attempt on Maguire Road

Chemical-aided suicide attempts could be an emerging issue internationally, but the May 4 incident was the first of its kind in Lexington, fire officials said.

The attempted suicide by cyanide that sparked a HazMat response Friday night on Maguire Road in Lexington was an immediate danger to only the man who ingested the chemical and the first-responders attempting to save his life, public safety officials said today, May 7.

At 8:19 p.m. on Friday, May 4, the a 911 call came in—via the State Police and Bedford Police Department—in which a caller reported he had ingested cyanide and was sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot opposite 10 Maguire Road. A regional HazMat team was notified and also responded to the scene, along members of the and departments.

According to an incident reports from the LPD and LFD, the man was found conscious, alert and clothed inside the vehicle, and had apparently vomited inside of his car. A “vapor cloud” was also noted inside the vehicle, and responders established a perimeter and called for a HazMat team, which removed the man from his vehicle, the fire department report said.

The man was decontaminated, stripped, and hosed down again, before being transported to Lahey Clinic and then onto Worcester, public safety officials said. HazMat and LFD crews then decontaminated the car, the scene and their equipment.

According to LFD Captain John Wilson, the department’s soon-to-be-chief, although incidences of attempting suicide through the use of dangerous chemicals is a bit of an emerging trend with origins in Japan that has made it to the United States. Friday night’s call was the first of its kind in Lexington, he said.

The HazMat scene posed an immediate danger only to the first-responders, and the threat to them was potentially lessened because the man actually ingested the chemicals, rather than inhaling them through his car, Wilson said.

News reports from Friday night put the man in his 30s, and local police and fire officials said the man worked in Bedford, but did not confirm the company.

Reached by phone on Monday afternoon, a Bedford Police spokesperson said his department was not investigating how the man obtained the chemicals and whether he stole them from his employer. 

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