A 29-year-old man found dead in a car over the weekend near Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was killed by an apparent overdose of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Sgt. Riley Harwood said authorities were dispatched at about 4 p.m. Saturday to check on the welfare of an unresponsive person seen inside a vehicle parked in a business/office lot at 2320 Calle Real near Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
The caller told dispatchers he had noticed the car was parked in the same area for at least two days, Harwood said.
When officers arrived, they found a man “obviously deceased” and somewhat reclined in the driver seat of the black Toyota FJ Cruiser, with a plastic grocery bag over his head, he said.
“There were a large number of nitrous oxide canisters found all over the inside passenger compartment of the vehicle,” Harwood said.
The victim was identified as Darren Boe of Santa Barbara, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
No signs of foul play were found, and the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office will be conducting an investigation to determine an official cause of death, Harwood said.
Nitrous oxide is more commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” and typically used as an anesthetic during surgery or dentistry.
“He was likely abusing nitrous oxide,” Harwood said. “This could’ve been an accidental overdose. It could’ve been a suicide.
“People have been doing this for a while,” he said of abusing the gas. “This is the first time I’ve heard of a death associated with it.”