June 24, 2018
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Deputy treated after inhaling vapors from homemade bomb in Winterport

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

WINTERPORT, Maine — Police and fire officials are investigating after a Waldo County Sheriff’s Office deputy was made sick Wednesday night by chemical vapors from a homemade bottle bomb that he found while patrolling on Coles Corners Road.

Deputy Nicholas Oettinger was taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor to be treated after he breathed in the vapors from the device that he had spotted at about 8:51 p.m., according to Chief Deputy Jeff Trafton of the sheriff’s office.

The deputy had seen something that appeared to be on fire on the side of the road and slowed down to take a look at it, Trafton said. The windows of his cruiser were open and the vehicle filled with what he thought was smoke, but which ended up being some kind of chemical vapor, according to the chief deputy.

“It made him feel sick. Made him throw up,” Trafton said.

Oettinger quickly left the scene and called dispatch to report the device, which was apparently constructed using a plastic Gatorade bottle, some chemicals and aluminum foil. Officials cordoned off and cleared the area, the chief deputy said. There were no further injuries.

BDN archives show that police in other areas have dealt with similar devices, also known as acid bombs, which they said are made by mixing a common household cleaner with aluminum foil inside an empty soda bottle. Gas from the resulting chemical reaction builds up, and the bottle explodes. The devices are dangerous because they can burn, blind or otherwise injure people, according to police. The lack of a fuse or timer also makes them unpredictable, police have said.

Stu Jacobs of the Maine state fire marshal’s office is investigating the Winterport bottle bomb, along with Detective Gerry Lincoln of the sheriff’s office.

Oettinger was treated and released from the hospital and was back at work Thursday morning, according to Trafton. The deputy was chosen Thursday to be the new school resource officer at Mount View High School in Thorndike.

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