Police Investigating Suspected Fatal Canned Air Overdose

SMITHFIELD – Smithfield Police and the Johnston County Medical Examiner are investigating the suspected overdose death of a Johnston County woman.

Around 9:00am Monday, Jan. 9, the 46 year-old victim was at Walmart when she reportedly overdosed by “huffing” Air Duster. She was transported to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield, reportedly refused medical treatment, and left the emergency department. Sometime later the woman obtained a ride with an unknown person.

Around 11:00am, police said the victim was in a car in the parking lot of Lowe’s Home Improvement where she died, reportedly from the lethal side effects of inhaling canned air earlier that morning.

Police said they cited the same woman January 7th at 11:12am after responding to the Walmart after she allegedly inhaled toxic fumes from a can of Air Duster. She was released at the scene pending a March 2023 court date on the misdemeanor charge.

If you know someone facing substance use disorders, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to reach the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The SAMHSA National Helpline is free and confidential and available 24/7, 365 days-a-year.


  1. This county is overflowing with addicts- from the working addict to the person begging for cash on the corner. Middle schoolers are going to class with marijuana and pills for sale. It starts early and our schools are ill-equipped to handle it or maybe just blind to the vast number of addicts already on their campuses. Our governments have set it up so that homeless addicts can occupy spaces in our communities with no repercussions. I could go on and on, but I won’t because this woman lost her life to addiction, which is a disease.
    My condolences to this woman’s family.

  2. We desperately need more mental health workers to help with these situations as the police are not equipped to deal with addiction. Instead of more jails we need rehab centers and mental health facilities for those suffering from addiction. Help for their families as well. Make some drugs legal like they were in the early 1900s. The ” war on drugs” created the drug cartels just like prohibition created the black market for liquor and beer, and if you know anything about history you know how that turned out. Google Harry Anslinger and why he started the war on drugs. We need another approach, clearly we are failing.

    • Making drugs legal, or turning a blind eye, has not worked out for the West Coast. San Francisco, L.A., Portland, and Seattle have proved this. If we can keep our loved ones off of drugs, we are winning.

    • We need to get to the root of the problem and start there. Maybe get back to the days of quick and swift punishments for all crimes. Legalizing illegal substances, while a fair argument, likely won’t eliminate the current topic at hand – drug addiction.

      • Punishing addicts by putting them in jail and not getting to the root of their addiction is a huge issue. Not all drugs need to be made legal – certainly not meth, but marijuana, yes. Most addicts commit crimes that are non violent – but yes there are also violent criminals who are just violent and addiction is not their problem, so I am not talking about them. Addicts steal mostly to get money for drugs sadly. It is wrong, I know this. If they weren’t addicts they wouldn’t be stealing. Not all addicts are ready to stop, and some are ready but sadly do not have the resources to make the complete life change that helps an addict stay clean. By that I mean they have to stay away from friends and/or family members who are on drugs, avoid triggers, get a job, stay sober, get a place to stay, a vehicle etc., it can be overwhelming. It can be done but there has to be long term help available….

    • All the rehab and social workers on the planet won’t keep someone who doesn’t want help from hurting themselves with a substance they are addicted to. It’s the lax attitude toward all drugs that has gotten where we are now. Like the BS that marijuana isn’t addictive but yet how many people that smoke it could or would stop to prove it isn’t? Our justice system is over loaded and has failed because it can’t handle the sheer amount of people and rehab only works if the person wants it to. Our society is doomed already and one day soon the life support is going to give out.

  3. We need to close the border so the drugs can’t flood in. We need harsher punishments for the dealers and to go after the cartels. We need more drug education in the schools. We need more mental health services focusing on the problem. We need to remove all the chemicals in our personal care products that are linked to changing our hormones making us more likely to be depressed. We need to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues. We need less government interference in our lives so people can feel free not oppressed and depressed with their situation. And so many more needs!

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