According to Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden, a patrol officer observed a vehicle driven by Timothy McDaniel, 40, of Paragould with extensive front end damage around 7:45 a.m.Sunday near the intersection of South Main and South Kingshighway. The vehicle was traveling south on Main, weaving from lane to lane prior to being stopped by the officer. Although the McDaniel attempted to flee on foot after stopping his vehicle, he was caught after a short chase.
As the officer approached the vehicle, he noticed a strong chemical smell coming from inside. The DPS department's hazmat team was called to the scene and determined the chemical in the vehicle was anhydrous ammonia.
Officers equipped with protective suits removed a 100-pound LP cylinder and a five-gallon air tank that had been converted to store the chemical. One of the main concerns of the team, Juden said, was that the van was filled with anhydrous fumes.
Also a large amount of contraband was found in the vehicle that had been used for the theft of anhydrous from storage tanks and the manufacture of methamphetamine.
"McDaniel was extremely lucky as the fumes in the vehicle are very dangerous and hazardous, especially in a confined vehicle where they cannot be diluted with normal breathing air as readily as in open spaces," Juden said in the DPS press release. "If he had kept the windows rolled up and tried to drive back to Paragould, he could have possibly sustained severe damage to his lungs and other internal organs.
"These seem to be the chances that the meth manufacturers are willing to take," Juden added.
McDaniel was charged by New Madrid County Prosecutor Lewie Recker with attempting to manufacture a controlled substance. He was arraigned Monday before New Madrid County Associate Circuit Judge Charles Spitler, who set bond at $100,000 and a court date of Thursday.
He remains in custody at the New Madrid County Jail.