Utah deputy exposed to drugs during traffic stop becomes dizzy, is taken to hospital

A Utah County sheriff's deputy had a scary moment earlier this week when a powdery substance blew into his face during a traffic stop involving drugs, causing him to become dizzy.

A Utah County sheriff's deputy had a scary moment earlier this week when a powdery substance blew into his face during a traffic stop involving drugs, causing him to become dizzy. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

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OREM — A Utah County sheriff's deputy was expected to be OK after a traffic stop earlier this week turned into a scary and dangerous situation.

Deputies pulled over a woman just after 10 p.m. Monday on the on-ramp to I-15 at 1600 North in Orem and reported seeing drug paraphernalia in her car as they were talking to her. That led to a full search of the vehicle.

"In the trunk of the vehicle there was a gray suitcase. Inside the suitcase liner, deputies located multiple elongated bundles which were each wrapped in multiple layers of plastic wrap," according to a police booking affidavit.

But the suitcase also contained suspected drug residue that was not wrapped, as Utah County sheriff's deputy Roger Lowe soon discovered.

"While searching a suitcase, some form of powder blew into a deputy's face. He immediately began to experience dizziness, so he stepped back from the car and warned other deputies who arrived to assist him. A short time later this deputy experienced more dizziness and difficulty breathing," according to a prepared statement from the sheriff's office.

Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said because deputies were unsure what Lowe had been exposed to, they administered three doses of naloxone to him. Naloxone is an opioid-overdose antidote.

Lowe was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released. The sheriff's office said he is expected to make a full recovery.

As deputies continued to cautiously search the vehicle, they found nine pounds of methamphetamine and approximately 5,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl. Deputies say the counterfeit pills are extremely dangerous — and could be potentially fatal because there's no way for a user to know how much fentanyl is in them.

Deputies also found a small amount of cathinone, which is a stimulant similar to amphetamine drugs. Cannon said it is believed powder from either the cathinone or fentanyl blew into Lowe's face, but it was unknown Wednesday exactly which substance caused the deputy to become dizzy.

The driver, Tanya Tuttle Mize, 40, of Springville, was arrested for investigation of two counts of drug distribution, four counts of drug possession, obstructing justice, driving while impaired, driving on a suspended license, possession of drugs in jail and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She told police "that she had driven to San Diego to pick up the narcotics and was transporting them back to Utah. She also said she was planning to hold on to the narcotics for a short period of time before another person was going to come pick them up for further distribution," the affidavit states.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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