A Sonoma County sheriff's deputy and a Santa Rosa man were hospitalized briefly Wednesday morning after they were exposed to toxic gas when the man mixed two chemicals in his car near Windsor in an apparent suicide attempt, sheriff's officials said.
The deputy suffered severe chemical exposure to his lungs and was expected to be off work for weeks, sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown said.
The man, Jeffrey Vandedrink, 47, of Santa Rosa, and a second deputy had a less severe exposure to the gas, a potentially deadly mixture of Lysol and lime sulfur.
Vandedrink was later arrested on a felony charge and booked into the Sonoma County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Deputies located Vandedrink parked along rural Faught Road after being alerted by a worried co-worker and then by a 911 call from Vandedrink that he was threatening to kill himself with chemicals.
When deputies arrived, they found Vandedrink sitting behind the wheel and his driver's-side window partially open. "They didn't know he had just mixed it," Brown said. "They knew it was dangerous. They thought he hadn't deployed it."
The deputies ordered the man out of his car and onto the ground.
As they pulled the man up to take him to the patrol car, one deputy was hit in the face by a chemical cloud from the car and overcome, Brown said.
Two ambulances were called at about 7:15 a.m. Fearing further problems from the toxic mix, that portion of the road, which runs along the eastern outskirts of Windsor, was closed.
CHP officers responded and for about three hours motorists were turned back at East Shiloh Road to the south and Pleasant Avenue to the north.
Vandedrink was released from Sutter Medical Center and arrested on a felony: suspicion of placing toxic substances in a public place causing injury.
The deputy, who wasn't identified, was treated at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center and released, Brown said.
Deputies were alerted to a man threatening to kill himself at 5:45 a.m. when a co-worker called 911, seeking help for Vandedrink, who had threatened to mix a fatal chemical combination, Brown said. Lysol and lime sulfur can create potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide gas.
Deputies began searching for Vandedrink, who they were told was on the move in his car. Subsequent calls between Vandedrick and dispatchers, with the man admitting his chemical suicide plan, kept deputies searching until they found him at about 7:15 a.m., parked near vineyards on the rural road.
Rincon Valley firefighters from Larkfield were alerted at 6:05 a.m. about the search for the man and headed for the scene at 7:16 a.m. once he was found, said Cyndi Foreman, a Central Fire official. Firefighters donned breathing gear, called for the road closure and helped an ambulance crew take steps to decontaminate the men.
The county's hazmat team put on protective gear at about 9 a.m. and removed the chemical containers from the car. The area was cleared at about 11 a.m.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.