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Teen charged with assault after chemical huffing
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Manteca Police officer Stephen Schluer counsels Anton Hernandez, 18, on the dangers of huffing a spray dust chemical as canine officer Grant Flory stands by. The youth was arrested for being drunk in public and for assaulting a shopper at Wal-Mart who attempted to go to his aid. - photo by GLENN KAHL
The warning “If ingested it may cause instant death” didn’t stop an 18-year-old Manteca teen from squirting cans of dust spray into his mouth Wednesday in front of Wal-Mart.    
Shoppers — a father and his adult son — who parked near a black Sun Bird noticed Anton M. Hernandez slumped in the front seat with a spray can to his mouth — frothing from the chemical.  The older man attempted to be a good Samaritan and reached over the teen to take his car keys fearing he might recover and drive off, he said.  
As he did Hernandez woke up and allegedly beat him about the head.  His son intervened and had the youth on the ground but said he couldn’t hold him and he got back in his car and drove off.  Officers said he didn’t need keys as they found later the car would easily start without a key.  
The injured Samaritan drove home to get his wife before going to be checked out at the emergency room of Doctors Hospital.  As the three were driving north on Commerce Street they said they witnessed the black Sun Bird pull out of the Target parking lot.
They said the driver pulled right in front of them and drove to the rear of the nearby Pet Smart store — backing into a rear store access area that was hidden from easy view.  They parked around the corner of the building and walked closer to see the driver ingesting more dust spray, they reported.
Officers responded to their call for help and arrested the Manteca High senior for being drunk in public and for assault on the Wal-Mart shopper.  Police reportedly located three empty cans of the spray on the ground around the car.
Hernandez was the subject of a similar call two weeks ago when he was found “unresponsive” in his Sun Bird behind a new industrial complex on Moffat Boulevard.  He was parked behind the last building next to the Highway 99 fence.
Emergency personnel rushed to that location around noon finding the youth obviously disoriented.
Medics and ambulance personnel were concerned for the teen when they found cans of the dust spray with him in the front seat of the car.  An officer at the scene counseled him as to the dangers and hoped he had learned his lesson from the reaction he suffered.
Officers said the spray causes an instant reaction and wears off quickly — having a much longer brain reaction compared to the physical high it produces.  The accelerant causes the back of the throat to freeze up causing death, a patrolman said.