Local News
March 20, 2019

State trooper exposed to dangerous drug during vehicle stop

A Vermont state police trooper collapsed after a traffic stop on Friday, March 15. Apparently exposed to an opioid-like drug, according to a State Police news release. He was revived by fellow troopers using Narcan, state police said. State police detectives are investigating the incident to determine the exact nature of the substance.

Police said the incident began at about 11:25 p.m. Friday, March 15, when Acting Sgt. Brett Flansburg of the New Haven Barracks stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation on the Leicester-Whiting Road in Leicester. While speaking with the driver, Sgt. Flansburg observed the passenger swallow an item. The passenger, later identified as Taylor C. Woodward, 25, of Brandon, admitted the item was a baggie of cocaine.

During a subsequent search of the passenger and the vehicle, Sgt. Flansburg located and collected as evidence a small quantity of heroin in a baggie, an empty plastic baggie, and a syringe. Woodward was taken into custody by other troopers on the scene for processing on suspicion of possessing heroin.

While transporting the evidence to the New Haven Barracks, Sgt. Flansburg began to feel ill, police said. When he arrived at the barracks, he called for help and collapsed in the parking lot. Fellow troopers found him unresponsive and rapidly administered two doses of the opiate overdose reversal drug Narcan. The sergeant received a third dose of Narcan while being rushed to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, and he began to show signs of improvement. At the hospital, Sgt. Flansburg received additional medical treatment and later was released.

Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, instructed VSP’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Narcotics Investigation Unit to conduct a full investigation of this incident.

“Being a state trooper is a dangerous and demanding job for all the reasons you’d expect: apprehending criminals, encountering volatile individuals, rushing toward emergencies rather than away. And now there is a new threat that we’re seeing up close: the risk of exposure to powerful drugs that can kill in even tiny amounts. This is so troubling and disconcerting, and it places members of law enforcement at unnecessary risk of possibly losing their lives,” Col. Birmingham said.

“I’m angry at how close we came, and relieved that the situation was no worse than it was,” he added.

As a precaution, Woodward was brought separately to UVMMC to be checked out and was determined to require no medical care. He was cited to appear May 6 in Vermont Superior Court, Criminal Division, in Middlebury to answer a misdemeanor charge of possession of heroin.

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