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Drug 'bath salts' turns up after car chase

A man who crashed his car in Medford during a late-night police chase was found to be in possession of the controversial drug "bath salts" that has made gruesome headlines recently and is a cause of concern for local police.

Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said Zachary Jordan Krawczyk has been arrested on numerous felony charges in connection with the chase. Among them is possession of bath salts, which police said were found in his pocket after he crashed his car near McAndrews Road.

The incident sparked just after midnight on Sunday, when a Medford officer saw a suspicious car parked in front of a known drug house on Brookhurst Avenue, Budreau said.

The officer ran the car's license plates and it came up stolen from the Grants Pass area. The stolen car's driver, whom police later identified as Krawczyk, sped away as the officer approached.

The subsequent chase continued onto Crater Lake Avenue, where officers deployed spike strips to flatten the car's tires.

The driver dodged one set of spikes, but struck a second set on McAndrews Road near Beatty Street. He lost control of the car once all four tires were flattened and crashed near Beatty. He and his passengers fled the wreck, Budreau said.

Officers quickly tracked them down and placed all four under arrest.

Budreau said a search of Krawczyk's clothes turned up a bag of a white powdery material. Krawczyk told police the substance was bath salts, Budreau said.

Bath salts is the term for a designer drug that has become increasingly popular over the past few years. News stories from across the country have reported the bizarre and sometimes dangerous behavior exhibited by bath-salts users.

The drug often is referred to as "legal Ecstasy" in user reviews on websites where it is sold. The effects are commonly listed as euphoria and hallucinations.

Local doctors have treated bath-salts users. They say the drug can cause serious mental instability in patients and can lead to permanent brain damage.

The drug made international news in Miami this week after a man believed to be under the influence of bath salts was shot and killed as he devoured the face of a transient.

Budreau said the drug is turning up in Medford with disturbing regularity this year.

"We are encountering people exhibiting bizarre behavior who are using these bath salts," Budreau said. "They are often violent and have a high tolerance for pain. They are hard to subdue."

In April, a man who had used bath salts became enraged at Rogue Valley Medical Center. The man fought numerous police and hospital staff before he was brought under control. One Medford officer was injured in the melee.

Krawczyk most likely wasn't using bath salts during Sunday's police chase, Budreau said.

He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of possession of synthetic drugs, attempting to elude police in a vehicle, attempting to elude police on foot, three counts of reckless endangerment, reckless driving and three counts of failure to appear in court on theft and drug charges.

His passengers were arrested on assorted drug charges, warrants and post-prison violations, Budreau said.

Budreau said the department is looking into specialized training in how to deal with people under the influence of bath salts.

"It's unlike meth or cocaine or anything else we've seen," Budreau said. "It's actually quite scary."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.