Synthetic drug, spice, suspected in Albany man’s death

A 32-year-old Albany man died unexpectedly Wednesday after exhibiting bizarre behavior that authorities believe might have been linked to use of a synthetic drug commonly known as spice.

Corvallis medics were called to Marys River Lumber in Philomath at 3:33 p.m. Thursday after a mill worker, Alan Eugene Garner, began running around, acting strangely.

His colleagues thought he might have been suffering from heatstroke or a medical condition, said Sgt. Randy Hiner of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was trying to throw punches at people … who were trying to assist him, get him in the shade and give him water,” Hiner said, adding that it appeared Garner did not know what he was doing.

Deputies detained Garner so that medics could begin treating him and load him up for transport to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

“His condition just seemed to deteriorate as time went on,” Hiner said. “His eyes were open, he was awake, but he was not coherent at that time.”

Garner died sometime in the night, Hiner said.

Hiner said that evidence suggests that Garner might have used the synthetic “spice” drug, but he declined to elaborate. The cause of death is still under investigation.

Hiner said Garner was hired through a temp agency and was from Umatilla. He recently moved to Albany, but Hiner said he didn’t when.

Spice is a synthetic drug that is known to have similar effects as marijuana, but its use has been linked to deaths in the country.

“We haven’t dealt with very many cases involving it,” Hiner said. “It’s out on the streets, for sure, but to my knowledge there haven’t been any deaths in Benton County by it.”

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