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Driver inhaled compressed air before crashing into bakery, police say

A West Duluth bakery sustained damage to its exterior today when a car struck the building, apparently after the driver had become disoriented by inhaling from a can of compressed air, Duluth police said.

Officers arrived at the Sara Lee bakery and discount bread store, 4002 Grand Ave., shortly before 3 p.m. and found a 1996 white Dodge Intrepid with two women inside lodged against the side of the building.

The driver, a 29-year-old Duluth woman, appeared to be disoriented. Police said in a news release that their initial investigation and witness statements indicated that the woman became impaired "by inhaling the compressed air of an air duster product" while driving.

"This practice is a very dangerous and sometimes fatal method an individual uses to get a temporary high," police said.

As the Intrepid was traveling west on Grand, the driver began passing out from inhaling the compressed air, police said. As the passenger in the car pleaded with the driver to pull over, the Intrepid struck another vehicle driven by a 16-year-old Duluth girl and then crashed into the bakery, formerly known as Metz Bakery, police said.

None of the three people in the two cars and no pedestrians were injured, police said. Police expect to file charges against the driver of the Intrepid.

Eileen Kurkinen was working at the front counter of the bakery when the car hit the building.

"Fortunately, no one got hurt, but it was a little scary," she said.

Passengers in a car that had been following the Intrepid said that the driver "had been on the sidewalk all the way from Wade Stadium," Kurkinen said.

"It's amazing," she said. "There are always people at the bus stops on Grand, but there was no one there today, thank God."