A South Salt Lake man who was hospitalized Wednesday after he apparently had a reaction to toxic material placed inside his boat was apparently the victim of a prank.
The woman who placed the gray powdery material in the boat confessed to Bountiful police late Wednesday afternoon, Bountiful Police Corp. Jon Hadlow said.The woman, 44, of Bountiful, told police she played the prank because she was angry at the man, who is her former husband, Hadlow said.
Police suspected early on that the material was deliberately placed, said South Salt Lake Police Capt. Beau Babka.
Hazardous materials teams called to the scene determined the powder is the type used in theft detection, Hadlow said. The substance reacts with human skin, turning it blue. The man had a blue face, neck, hands and arms, Had-low said.
The woman said she had purchased the material at a Salt Lake store that specializes in "spy" equipment, such as surveillance cameras and eavesdropping equipment.
Apparently, the man was attempting to move the 14-foot aluminum fishing boat from an apartment complex in Bountiful, where he had once stayed, when he came in contact with the powder, Babka said.
The symptoms appeared very shortly after that, Babka said. HAZMAT teams were dispatched, and the man was hosed down and taken to Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful about 1:30 p.m. He was treated there and later released.
The victim then had the boat moved to the home of a friend in South Salt Lake. There, South Salt Lake Fire officials responded along with HAZMAT teams, to identify and contain the material. People were evacuated from homes in the immediate vicinity of the boat's location for about four hours as a precautionary measure.
HAZMAT teams elected to decontaminate the area by flushing the boat with water after determining the material was not combustible or environmentally hazardous. The material was absorbed into the gravel driveway.
Babka said the man is "examining his options" with regard to pursuing civil action against the person he believes is responsible. Babka said the fire department is also looking into some kind of cost recovery.
An investigation into the incident is under way.
"It is interesting how far someone will go to make life miserable for someone else," Babka said. "It's just beyond us."