Maine Police Mistake Human Remains for Heroin

The Kennebec County Courthouse in Augusta, Maine.

 

After arriving at the scene of a car accident, Maine police located two clear plastic bags filled with cremated human remains in the glove box, which the officers mistook for heroin.

On April 21, deputies from the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call regarding a car accident. When they arrived at the scene, they found the car, a 2006 Chevrolet Impala, lodged against a utility pole, with the driver unconscious at the wheel of the crashed vehicle.

The car was owned by Kevin Curtis, but he had lent the vehicle to his friend, Jess Legendre. Legendre, who (unbeknownst to Curtis) had had his driver’s license revoked due to habitual traffic offenses, was driving the car when it went off the road and struck the pole. Legendre was apparently struck in the head by the deploying airbag during the crash, and became unresponsive when police arrived at the scene.

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When officers found the two baggies of unidentified powder in the glove box of the vehicle, they assumed Legendre was under the influence of opioids, and administered the opioid-overdose reversal medication Narcan to the unconscious man. A second dose of Narcan was administered when he arrived at the hospital.

Ultimately, testing would reveal that the unidentified substance in the baggies was not heroin, but actually the cremated remains of the owner of the car’s father. Fortunately, there is no negative effect when an individual who has not ingested any opioids is administered Narcan, so while the opioid-overdose reversal drug was not helpful, this mistake did not have an impact on Legendre’s condition.

Curtis was able to retrieve most of his father’s remains from evidence once laboratory testing had determined that the mysterious unidentified substance found in the baggies was not heroin or another illicit substance. According to Curtis, he had been storing his father’s cremated remains in the vehicle as he awaited the arrival of a suitable receptacle for the ashes.