By NIKKI YOUNK
MARQUETTE - Marquette County officials have determined that a report of a male victim's exposure to a World War II nerve agent was not a hoax, but a cover-up for his exposure to fumes from a suspected methamphetamine lab.
The incident was reported at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
Deputies from the Marquette County Sheriff's Department said that the Poison Control Center informed Bell Memorial Hospital in Ishpeming that a woman was bringing a 23-year-old man to the facility for treatment of exposure to a possible World War II nerve agent.
Bell Memorial Hospital initiated lock-down procedures and prepared to conduct decontamination operations, but the male victim never arrived.
Deputies said that local officials notified Poison Control Center officials, who provided the cell phone number of the female caller. When contacted by Bell Hospital staff, the woman said that she dropped the man off at Marquette General Hospital, deputies added.
However, Marquette General Hospital staff members notified officials that the man was not at their facility.
Deputies said that further investigation into the incident revealed that it was not a hoax or a threat, and not related to the recent bomb threat incidents in the county.
"The 23-year-old male may have been exposed and ingested fumes emitted from a methamphetamine lab days earlier," said deputies. "Fear of being suspected for methamphetamine use, the woman called the Poison Control Center on behalf of the male using the nerve agent story to conceal the possible meth involvement."
Deputies added that they made contact with the man, who did not require medical attention.
The investigation remains active pending review by the Marquette County Prosecutor's Office.
Assisting agencies included Bell EMS, Ishpeming City Fire Department, Ishpeming City Police Department, Marquette County Sheriff Rescue 131, Marquette City Police Department, Michigan State Police, and Northern Michigan University Public Safety.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.