Local podiatrist accused of huffing, driving twice in one week

by: Katie McKee Updated:

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The St. Augustine podiatrist arrested after an accusation of huffing dust cleaner while driving was also cited this week for ingesting harmful chemicals while driving, an incident report says.

A St. Augustine Police report says Dr. James S. Militello, 61, crashed his car into a power pole guideline on Wednesday at the intersection of South Ponce and Arapaho Street.

On Monday, St. Johns County Fire Chief Carl Shank reported a reckless driver on U.S. 1 near the St. Augustine Airport. A St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office report says Shank encountered a white Mercedes SUV blocking both lanes of the road. Militello was reportedly slumped forward in the driver’s seat, seemingly unconscious, when Shank stopped to check on him.

The police report says Militello pulled away and weaved across the southbound lanes before finally pulling over. Shank told the driver to stay in the Mercedes until police arrived.

Two deputies arrived and gave Militello a voluntary test. The report said Militello exhibited the impaired, lethargic behavior of someone who had ingested air duster.

Militello was not arrested for DUI, and the SJSO allowed his office manager to come pick him up and the vehicle.

The police report said that SJSO seized the air dust cleaner found in the vehicle. A receipt from Target for three two-bottle packs of air duster were purchased from the St. Augustine Target two hours earlier. Three of them were empty, and a fourth had been partially emptied. Only two cans were unopened.

On Wednesday Militello was arrested after he reportedly crashed his car on State Road 207. The impact knocked out power to nearby traffic lights and also affected the power to a nearby Winn-Dixie. Militello was charged with DUI with Property Damage and Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage.

The police report said an officer pulled over Militello and observed him putting a can to his mouth when he was stopped. It was later discovered the can was computer dust cleaner, and the officer said Militello appeared sluggish and was slurring his words.

The report said Militello was asked about his recent past actions while driving and that Militello could not recall them. When asked about the can that was observed as he placed it to his mouth, he answered that he was huffing.

He was released on $500 bond.