Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 25, 2012

UPDATE: 2 deputies injured after meth bust

For The Independent

ARGILLITE — An early Sunday morning police warrant service turned potentially deadly as noxious fumes from a functioning methamphetamine lab engulfed two Greenup County Sheriff’s Department deputies, sending both lawmen to the hospital.

A vaporous haze lingered over the small, white-siding house after midnight as several agencies converged on the scene to offer assistance.

According to Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper, at 12:02 a.m., Deputies Rick Craft and Cody Fuller responded to a home at 2943 Culp Creek Rd. in rural Greenup County, aiming to serve a warrant on the resident, Hubert Dehart, 42.

As officers entered the house, Dehart allegedly barricaded himself inside the bathroom where an active and operational, unstable, clandestine meth lab cooked. Blockaded from law enforcement, Dehart attempted to get rid of evidence as deputies gained entry into the bathroom.

In due course, Dehart was detained and taken into custody by both deputies on the scene.

Shortly thereafter, deputies were subsequently overwhelmed by permeating, precarious fumes exuding from meth-making materials. Both were transported to the Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital emergency room for treatment, where Craft was treated and released, police reported.

Fuller was initially admitted into the OLBH intensive care unit. Hospital officials declined to release his condition Sunday.

Greenup Deputy Larry Pancake said Fuller stabilized Sunday afternoon, and was responding, speaking, and communicating well; still undergoing breathing treatments at OLBH to recover from severe meth inhalation, Pancake said.

Pancake awoke in the wee hours Sunday, alerted to bad news. Although it frightened the veteran cop, he trusts his brother will pull through and recuperate.

“Cody is a strong boy and serves the Army reserves,” he paused. “He’s young enough to get through it.”

The near tragedy is wakeup call to area police – and the public, Pancake said.

“First responders are on the front lines everyday and people need to keep them in their prayers every day. Who are the first people you call when you’re in need? First responders…

“It could be any of us.”

The sheriff’s office was assisted by officers from the Raceland, Russell, and Worthington police departments, as well as Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, Little Sandy volunteer firefighters, and Greenup County EMS.

Russell Police Chief Tim Wilson headed to the country frame house just a mile off the Industrial Parkway alerted by his patrol officer Shane Elkins, who heard word on the radio that two Greenup County deputies were down and imperiled.

“Our sole purpose was to offer any assets or equipment they may need,” Wilson said Sunday afternoon. “Our concerns and prayers are with the officers involved and their families. We hate when something like this happens. It’s one of us and we all come out to help.”

Wilson said the community is starting to grapple with dangers of meth production and abuse – a dilemma other parts of the country witnessed for years.

“We’re lucky we never dealt with something like this before,” said Wilson, adding citizens are eyes and ears to police and should call with any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

The Russell Volunteer Fire Department constructed a decontamination station at the OLBH emergency room entrance, where affected first responders were cleansed of the explosive and risky meth compounds.

Dehart, and Pamela Dehart, 42, of Ashland were both lodged in the Greenup County Detention Center.

Pamela Dehart was charged with felony manufacturing of methamphetamine, wanton endangerment of a police officer, and unlawful possession of meth precursor.

Hubert Dehart was charged with felony manufacturing of methamphetamine, wanton endangerment of a police officer. unlawful possession of a meth precursor, and two failure to appear misdemeanor citations.

Bond is set at $50,000 full cash on the Dehart duo, according to jail officials Sunday night.