According to Cape Coral Police, Abraham Duarte was pulled over for speeding on Sept. 1, but after stopping he made a run for it, straight into a canal.
But that wasn’t such a hot plan, given that waterways in the area are currently inundated with blue-green algae. As Duarte tried to swim away, he found himself nose-deep in the algae, which, as he told the Washington Post, “smelled like human feces.”
Besides being stinky, blue-green algae is also toxic to humans and other animals, such as fish, birds, and family pets. According to the Florida health department, blue-green algae produces chemicals called cyanotoxins, which can affect the liver, nervous system, and skin, especially in high doses. It’s been blamed for the deaths of three dogs in Canada.
The algae can be present in fresh, salt, or mixed (brackish) water, and their population can rapidly explode in “blooms” when there is the right combination of nutrients and warmer water. The nutrients are usually phosphorus and nitrogen, which can be found in products used agriculturally and in homes, such as fertilizers, detergents, and cleaning products.
The algae can turn the water bluish, green, red, or brown, and have become a particular problem in Cape Coral, where the blooms have taken over local canals, stinking up the area.
It’s a very bad idea to swallow the algae, but that’s exactly what Duarte did.
In a bodycam video posted by the police, Duarte can be heard yelling “I’m going to die!” and swearing profusely as he tries to swim back to the waiting officers. He can also be heard retching as he gets closer to the canal’s edge.
“He’s got himself in the middle of the algae and he doesn’t like it very much,” one of the officers said
The officers then led him over to a hose where they washed him off and gave him a much-welcome mouth rinse. Because he swallowed some of the algae, Duarte asked to be taken to the hospital, where he was evaluated before being taken to the county jail.
According to the police, seven vials of THC oil were found in the car that Duarte ran from and he’s been charged with possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest without violence.