Driver killed in state Route 56 head-on collision identified

Nick Hart died at the scene

SAN DIEGO - Authorities released the name Friday of a 22-year-old man killed in a possible DUI collision in Rancho Penasquitos.

Nick Hart of San Diego was heading west on state Route 56 when an eastbound 2002 Land Rover SUV veered across a center median and smashed head-on into his 2010 Toyota Scion near Black Mountain Road about 9:40 a.m. Thursday, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office and California Highway Patrol.

Hart, a 2009 Poway High School graduate who worked at a Trader Joe's market in Scripps Ranch, died in the wreckage of his car.

Medics took the other motorist, 18-year-old Timothy Barnette of San Diego, to a La Jolla trauma center for treatment of severe injuries, CHP public affairs Officer Jake Sanchez said. He remained hospitalized as of Friday afternoon.

Investigators suspect that Barnette was under the influence of some type of medication or other controlled substance at the time of the crash, and criminal charges may be filed against him, the spokesman said.

10News went to Barnette's home, where his mother's boyfriend told 10News, "Tim was on an inhalant when the crash happened."

Authorities are still waiting for the results of a toxicology report.

Nancy Knott, a drug and alcohol counselor from Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, said the abuse of inhalants is common among teens and adults because it's an easy and inexpensive way for them to get high.

"Inhaling the propellant is what they are doing; the propellant is the chemical that gives them the high and it's a stimulant that causes them to be like, 'Wow!' That rush is what they are looking for," Knott told 10News.

That rush, Knott said, can be deadly.

"What it does to the body is that it takes the oxygen out of the lungs. It's like holding your breath … and that can cause them to pass out or even die," she said.

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