Deadly trend teens huffing coolant out of air conditioning unit - CBS46 News

Deadly trend: Teens huffing coolant out of air conditioning unit

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Herman Lorenz had a problem with vandals around his Briarcliff home so he grabbed his camera and hid in his basement. What he discovered was shocking and disturbing.

"It's certainly shocking because people talk about drug problems. This is absolutely crazy! That's like drinking gasoline," said Lorenz.

Lorenz said about seven teenagers ages 14 and 15 were in his backyard huffing freon out of his air conditioning unit.

"The one kid who was laying behind the unit had his mouth against it and just sucking it in," said Lorenz. "The one kid laying on top, the freon was just spraying around and he was breathing it in."

 Lorenz said at first he was taking a picture through a window from inside his basement. When he stepped out with his camera, he said the teens were so high they didn't realize what he was doing.

"You could watch them and they obviously didn't know what was going on. They were completely lost," said Lorenz.

Lorenz said all the teens go to Lakeside High School. He said Monday's incident was the second time in two weeks he caught them huffing freon out of his AC unit.

DeKalb County police identified and arrested four of the teens. They are charged with criminal trespass, destruction of property and theft.

Dr. Robert Geller is a pediatric professor with the Emory School of Medicine and the Medical Director at the Georgia Poison Center.

"What teens are unfortunately doing, they are breaking into refrigeration systems, AC systems, opening the valve letting the freon out and huffing it while it comes out of the valve," said Geller. "The problem is they think it's going to give them a safe high but it's not a safe high."

Geller said the growing trend can be deadly.

"Some teens have described it as causing a rapid high. The problem with the rapid high is sometimes it causes heart rhythm to be abnormal and it can make you drop dead from an abnormal heart rhythm when your heart stops beating correctly," said Geller.

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