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Authorities blame bad crack for 25 hospitalizations

May 4, 1997

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) _ Crack cocaine poisoning has sent at least 25 people to area hospitals, and authorities warned Saturday that the drug had either been laced with a chemical or was extremely potent.

``This is obviously a bad batch of crack,″ said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sonya Dodds. ``It’s not your normal cocaine reaction.″

Some victims suffered seizures and others were frothing at the mouth, Maj. Marvin Pittman said. They had fevers and were disorientated.

``One individual was literally trying to dig up the pavement,″ Dodds said. ``Some were walking into stationary objects. It’s an unusual kind of reaction, even with crack cocaine.″

The first victims arrived at hospitals Wednesday. Ten people were taken to Winter Haven Hospital on Saturday, the same day police made a public appeal to alert residents of the danger. At least six people were in critical condition.

A man was arrested Saturday with blocks of crack of an unusual shape, color and odor. Investigators sent the crack taken from him to be tested.

Police warned crack users not to smoke any drugs they had purchased.

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