Local News

Benson Police Chief Exposed to Toxic Fumes: 'I Was Gasping for Breath'

Posted September 1, 2007
Updated September 2, 2007

— Benson Police Chief Kenneth Edwards was recuperating Saturday after he said he endured the scariest moment of his life just several hours before.

Edwards was rushed to the hospital just after midnight after discovering a working mobile meth lab during a routine traffic stop. He immediately became sickened by the toxic fumes.

“Instantly, I lost my breath, my eyes were dry, my throat was dry, I was gasping for breath,” he said. “I don’t remember a whole lot after that.”

Edwards pulled over a red Chevy pickup truck at the intersection of Highway 50 and Benson Hardee Road around midnight Friday, police said. The driver, Kenneth Scott West, gave Edwards permission to search the car, authorities said.

While performing the search, Edwards was exposed to the toxic fumes.

“I had no idea what I was about to encounter,” he said. “It was a panicky situation. It was scary, as scared as I’ve ever been.”

Two other officers with Edwards at the traffic stop were not hurt and called in approximately a dozen units as backup.

Edwards was transported by ambulance to Betsy Johnson Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released. He was still battling a cough and some other discomfort Saturday afternoon.

“My throat’s still hurting. My lungs are sore,” Edwards said.

West was arrested at the scene and charged with possession of meth, manufacturing meth and maintaining a vehicle manufacturing meth. Police said they might file additional charges against him.

West was being held in the Johnston County Jail under a $40,000 bond.


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  • supercop1022 Sep 3, 2007

    First let me start by qualifying myself, I’m one of Chief K O Edwards’s officers and have been in Law Enforcement for 6 years. Chief Edwards is doing fine as of 09/03/2007, still has a little bit of a soar throat. Some of you have stated that you thought he was making to much out of this, well as long as I have know him he has never exaggerated anything. Chief Edwards is also one of a very few Chiefs that works the normal 8-5 Mon-Fri, after 5 pm he stays around until at least 1 am on Thru-Sat nights, to assist his patrol officers in stopping street level crimes such as narcotics violations, gang violence and traffic violations, because he truly cares about the community he serves. Some of you have wondered about it taking 12 officers to secure the crime scene, this was due to it being a safety hazard to the public, we needed officers to block several streets, help get residents out of nearby houses and wait on the SBI meth lab clean up crew. Once every thing was handled, offic

  • Jokers Wild II Sep 3, 2007

    james004 - I am not sure what rock you have been living under but Higher income has nothing to do with the crime rate while it is true that people with higher educations are less likely to end up in prison it does not mean their spoiled step-child will not be out looking "coke" or whatever other party flavor they can get their hands on! If you seriously think crime and drugs would decrease you are sadly mistaken.. How many "rich" people do you know personally?? I can name 3 lawyers right off hand that make in excess of 250,000 a year that are well known coke addicts.. I can name a CEO's son that has been locked up several times for drugs and drinking charges.. This list could go on and on..crime knows NO boundaries when it comes to money.. Even the rich white folk gets in trouble too! you just wont see them sitting in the jail house because they actually make bail, hence out-of-sight, out-of-mind!

  • james004 Sep 3, 2007

    Simracer, no you are mistaken.

    Higher income/higher educated people in an area of town do equal less crime and drugs. You may have to deal with snobby people like you find in Cary, but I'd rather deal with them than the redneck trailer trash we commonly find in Johnston and Harnett Counties.

    In fact, most well to do people I know in Cary/Apex are really nice and would help out a friend in need. I can't say the same for the typical country boy I'd find out in the county, with their racial biases and their nose in the drugs and alcohol.

  • Jokers Wild II Sep 3, 2007

    Good Find Chief Edwards! I hope you make a speedy recovery and no matter what WRAL says there is no such thing as a "routine" traffic stop..

  • isabella731 Sep 3, 2007

    Why is this whole thing being picked apart like this? 1. Meth is bad. 2. The officer was doing his job. 3. He should be praised for taking more "meth-heads" off the street, and not criticized. He had a reaction to chemicals that led to medical treatment. It could've happened to any of his officers, but this CHIEF chooses to be on the street WITH his officers. I hope Mr. Edwards recovers completely and keeps up with the great job he is doing. As for physical fitness, you'd probably be surprised at what he can actually do. I cannot believe some of the petty comments being made here.

  • RochesterRedWolf Sep 3, 2007

    sorry the officer got into all that, he was just doing his job...but when i first read the story, i remembered why people from Dunn (my hometown) tried to stay away from Benson, the smell.

  • Professor Studley Sep 3, 2007

    "Anhydrous Ammonia is also used in meth production and that is some NASTY stuff. Multiply household ammonia by 1000 times and you will have some idea." --shutterbug


    Very, very, true... I wish the officer a speedy recovery, and am certianly glad that one more of these operations have been shut down... good work!

  • anonemoose Sep 2, 2007

    Chief, I'm glad your Okay. BTDT, but caught it before I inhaled. The big thing I think of it the mandatory training video........"That Ain't Good"..

    You and everybody else went home, so now it's all good.

  • NC BEACH LOVER Sep 2, 2007

    Thank goodness that Chief Edwards is doing okay. As being a public servant, I am thankful that the citizens of Benson has a Chief that cares enough about his town to tighten down on the type of crimes that can ruin a nice little town. For those that have made the negative comments I hope that when you have a need for any type of public servant especially LEO's I hope that you will have the kind of LEO's that the Town of Benson has. Ones that care about the citizens of the town they are serving.

  • elcid89 Sep 2, 2007

    "Either you are very young, or very sadly mistaken, or both. High class? That just means more expensive drugs, like cocaine and heroin - and alcohol at the very least. Please, wake up before posting next time. Nice homes and nice cars don't mean less drugs and crime. Because it doesn't mean nicer people, only higher paid ones."

    You have to wonder who he thinks is responsible for the problem in the first place. After all, you can't have a drug problem without people who BUY drugs.