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Suspected Paint-Huffing Driver Arrested In Battered SUV After Crashing Through Traffic Barrier

Police are investigating whether a suspected DUI driver arrested Monday was huffing paint before crashing through a traffic barrier in downtown Seattle. Officers later found the man driving driving through Interbay in a battered SUV littered with spraypaint cans.

The driver reportedly crashed through the city-owned traffic control arm at 9th Avenue and Pike Street just before 9 AM and turned the wrong way down Pike Street.

Witnesses flagged down officers, described the suspect’s dark-colored Mazda SUV—”His front end is all smashed, the airbags are deployed, and he was huffing something!” one man told officers—and said the suspect had headed west.

Officers Tay Gray-McVey and Tre Smith found the suspect a short time later and pulled him over in the 1800 block of 15th Ave West. Officers asked the 37-year-old driver if he realized he’d hit the traffic arm at 9th and Pike. “Nope,” the man said. Had he been drinking? “Nope.” Had he, as a witness said, been huffing paint? “No.”

Officer Smith noted in his report on the incident that he “could see multiple cans of what appeared to be spray paint sitting in the passenger seat and the passenger floor board, all within reach of the driver’s seat.”

Police arrested the man for driving under the influence and hit and run, impounded his vehicle, and booked him into the King County Jail.