Prosecutor Says Rousso May Have Fainted Before Driving into Family

The Lake County State's Attorney's Office says 18-year-old Carly Rousso was high off of "canned air," and may have passed out behind the wheel before crashing into a mother and her three children, killing a 5-year-old girl.

Here's how Ken LaRue, the Lake County State's Attorney's Traffic Division chief, envisions what happened on Central Avenue on Labor Day:

Eighteen-year-old Carly Rousso was driving a Lexus coupe eastbound in Highland Park. Either before she started driving or once she was underway, she grabbed the canister of dusting spray she'd brought along, put it to her nose, pushed down the nozzle and inhaled.

She was instantly filled with a euphoric sensation brought on by a chemical compound in the spray called difluoroethane. Commonly referred to as "huffing," inhaling this compound and others like it causes asyphyxiation that users get high from.

"At some point," LaRue said, "she passed out."

She didn't stop the car as it drifted, first across the lanes going in the opposite the direction. Then, towards the sidewalk by , where a Highland Park mother was walking with her three young children.

'Heavier than air'

That sequence of events is what LaRue believes might what have happened .

"This substance is heavier than air," LaRue said on Wednesday about difluoroethane. "It pushes the air out of your lungs and you just pass out."

Rousso , according to the Lake County State's Attorney's office. She surrendered herself before Judge Raymond Collins Wednesday morning. Hours later, her father posted her $500,00 bond, paying $45,000 in cash ().

She was released at 4:32 p.m. Wednesday.

A wait for charges

LaRue explained that it took longer to charge Rousso than it typically does to charge drivers with DUIs because of the uniqueness of the intoxicating compound.

"Most cases … we charge them right away," LaRue said. "This case, there was no alcohol, no cocaine, no cannabis. That's why it took so long."

It usually takes three months just to test blood for difluoroethane, LaRue said, because many labs in the state lack the equipment necessary to test for it. It also disappears out of the bloodstream after 14 days, which means if Rousso hadn't been blood tested for two weeks after the crash the compound would not have been found at all.

"It's an unusual case," LaRue said.

While awating toxicology results, investigators examined the Lexus that Rousso was driving to make sure no mechanical problems could have been responsible for the collision.

"We needed to make sure the car was in perfect operating order, and it was," LaRue said.

The investigation was a collaborative effort by the and the Major Crash Assistance Team (MCAT), a cooperative unit that comprises specially trained police officers from throughout Lake County. Rousso so that blood and urine samples could be obtained.

The chemical compound found in her system was also listed as an ingredient in in the empty canister of dusting spray found in the Lexus, according to LaRue.

"We have it in her blood," LaRue said, "and we have it correlating with the can." 

An extremely addictive asphyxiant

Sometimes referred to as "canned air," difluoroethane is an asphyxiant that can diminish judgment and cognitive functioning, according to Family Service Executive Director Paul Dean. He's treated substance abusers at Family Service, a counseling agency based in Highland Park. The organization has already assigned counselors to both the Rousso and Sacramento families.

"They are extremely addictive," Dean said about "canned air" compounds, which can be found in hundreds of household products. 

Similar to methamphetamine, "canned air" is inhaled for its euphoric effect, but can also cause extreme anxiety, hallucinations, even cardiac arrhythmia. 

"The longer you use it for, the worse it gets," Dean said.

Someone addicted to "canned air" typically starts with introductory drugs like marijuana, according to Dean. A Chicago Tribune story published Wednesday reported that Rousso at one point participated in a rehab program after she was cited for marijuana possession.

"And then they move to something like this," Dean said.

Bond conditions include no driving, random drug tests

Rousso's bond conditions include a curfew from 9 p.m. till 7 a.m., no driving and no illegal substances, according to Deputy Police Chief Dave Schwarz.

If she's found guilty of aggravated DUI, the statute requires that she serve 85 percent of her sentence, which could be as many as 14 years in prison.

"Unless you are able to show extraordinary circumstances," LaRue said about people found guilty of aggravated DUI, "you're doing prison time."

There are six factors that can be used to charge someone with an aggravated DUI, LaRue explained. Rousso was charged with four of those six, according to the felony warrant obtained by Patch. She was also charged with reckless homicide, which can lead to probation or up to five years in prison if there's a conviction.

"We have to charge every possible charge at the beginning," LaRue said. "Everything that she should be charged with under the statute she's charged with."

Jaclyn is mourned

Jaclyn's . About a hundered people attended the funeral mass, including ,  and.

During the bilingual service at Saint James Parish in Highwood, Rev. Thomas Baldonieri called Jaclyn "a joyful child" who enjoyed dressing in pink, like a princess.

"Jaclyn was born and received into loving hands and hearts," Baldonieri said. "Even now, we see just how many people are touched by Jaclyn's life and tragic death, even those who never met her."

Rousso's next court date is on Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m.

To better keep up with Deerfield news, follow Patch on Twitter and Facebook.

Curious Resident September 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM
What in the world is going on with our teenagers?!?!?! I am saddened yet happy that the charges have been upgraded for an unneccessary loss of a child, but how is it that families, friends, etc. are missing that their children are getting high!!!! If she was in rehab before then what happens? First you have the two Deerfield "adults" robbing the drug dealers house, then you have the drug dealer also an "adult" charged with intent to sell and a safe in his house filled with everything, and now you have this "adult" driving under the influence from HUFFING!!!!! WTF these children are going to be our future???!!!! I am not so sure about this idea!!!! Please Mr. Russo, if you have $50,000 of cash lying around and you decide to bail out your child, I seriously hope that as a family you are figuring out how to get her some serious help....you can't take back or give back a child that is dead because your daughter was HUFFING WHILE DRIVING!
witness of decay September 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I agree with you. This was the end of the rope for her, unfortunatelly it took an innocent life and that is something that will stay with her for the rest of her life, so it is very much up to the parents now to turn around a human being full of shame and who has lost all sense of respect and responsibility. And it is a lesson for all of us witnesses to keep our kids/teenagers in sight of what they do and who they do it with. Sad, sad...
Wissh September 13, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Drug addicts have no respect, responsibility nor shame. At this point, I'm sure Carly is worried most about Carly. Why, at 18 years old and already a drug arrest and rehab behind her, was this kid driving a Lexus in the first place? Why was she bonded out by enabling parents who will now also pay for her defense? She should have been allowed to feel sorry for herself while sobering up in jail for awhile, then taken straight back to extended rehab, which is what she needs, and how that 50 K could be put to better use. If you think I'm being unduly harsh, maybe, but I know from where I speak. Carly's next stop is our very own Heroin Highway, and the local dealers will ensure she gets a taste. After that rehab won't be as easy as death by overdose, like my son's, a Deerfield HS graduate, at age 20. Oh, and with a lenient judge, the heroin dealers will get off with probation, but your daughter will be just as dead as my son. Take responsible control now!
Susan Taub September 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I'm guessing since Wissh's son ended up overdosing, that his parents did not follow the advice which they are now giving to the Rousso family. This is such a tragic story all the way around. Carly Rousso had a life many kids can only dream of, growing up in a well to do, affluent family...probably never wanted for anything and she has thrown it all away. Parents need to realize that they can give their child too much and will only end up raising spoiled, irresponsible children. Unfortunately, the real victim in all of this is the little girl Carly killed who had nothing to do will all of Carly's problems but ended up paying for them with her life.
Wealth and happiness September 13, 2012 at 07:33 PM
God I'm glad my kids turned out well. 1 princeton grad and 1 UCLA. You guys stink at raising kids.
Steve S. September 13, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I think you are one of the few whose advice should be taken. Your story is sad. We can learn more from you than any of these comments thrown out here. People up and down these strings have blamed the parents for everything from what type of car she drove, to ignoring her problems, to this being due to bad parenting. I still don't see how the type of car made any difference in this case, and yes I understand when people hear of a kid driving a lexus it sounds absurd, but in HP it's not all that out of the ordinary, and is not a reflection of a good or bad person. I agree with everything you have posted, and this question is not meant to sound inconsiderate but as a parent of a DHS kid now, I'm curious. Do you blame yourself for your sons death? I do not blame you, but hearing all of the remarks regarding the Rousso's and how they should've acted, I am curious to know from someone who has been though this if you agree. Assuming the Rousso's did what they thought they could to help, what should they/ you have done differently to avoid this, I ask on behalf of all parents with kids in HS.
Steve S. September 13, 2012 at 09:07 PM
And with that comment, it's obvious that yours turned out well in spite of you and not because of you and I'm sure with those degrees they are well aware of it.
jab Zion September 14, 2012 at 12:17 AM
couldn't agree with you more Steve!
RonnieTheLimoDriver September 14, 2012 at 01:17 AM
fyi, where your child goes to school is not the only (or best) measure of parenting success. unfortunately bad people graduate from ucla and princeton the same as from clc. if my kids goes to u of i does that mean you were a better parent?
RonnieTheLimoDriver September 14, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Sorry for your loss.
jab Zion September 14, 2012 at 03:12 AM
this type of "ego" contributes in making our kids "rich north shore brats" -
Madukes September 14, 2012 at 06:52 AM
My son did not end up overdosing. My son started out overdosing. You have no idea what advice we followed.
Madukes September 14, 2012 at 07:04 AM
@Ronnie - thank you very much. @Steve S. - I appreciate your nonjudgmental comment and would like to give my response after some thought not impacted by insomnia. I would also like to invite you to the second Heroin Awareness Forum at the Northbrook Library on November 12th at 7PM. The media covered the first one last month, I'm sure you can still look it up. There's a huge and rapidly growing heroin problem in Chicago and its suburbs, particularly Lake and Will Counties. Bereaved mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, as well as those of addicts still using are working hard to get the word out. I will read all the articles and comments you mentioned then respond to your questions tomorrow. Thank you.
Madukes September 14, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Maybe it's not that we stink. Maybe you just got lucky. Maybe your eldest didn't have a car accident that left him paralyzed. Maybe you have no mental illness afflicting your children. Maybe you did everything right and were perfect parents of perfect kids. A perfect Stepford family. Congratulations. May your luck continue into the next generation. Having said all that, I agree with Steve S. Your kids turned out well in spite of you. The name you chose to hide behind speaks volumes.
Just Sayin September 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Wealth and happiness ...are you joking ? The people who financially screwed this nation in the last few years all went to top tier universities! These jokers did not "turn out well". They turned out to be lying thieving white collar criminals. If your children share your heartless attitude...I can assure you they did not "turn out well"... they turned out like you...and that does not bode well my friend.
Mandi September 15, 2012 at 12:14 AM
That is part of the problem with human relations today, "Your guessing"about someone eles's problem instead of educating yourself about said problem before speaking out loud. "Parents of teens need to be especially vigilant about signs of inhalant abuse (huffing), since the abused substances are simple household items and not readily identifiable as drugs of abuse. These substances are also easily purchased and inexpensive, making them attractive to curious teens. In addition to signs of intoxication, parents should be warned of potential inhalant abuse by sores and scratches around the mouth area along with the presence of unusual odors." MedicineNet.com
Mandi September 15, 2012 at 12:16 AM
An oxymoronic moniker. Thanks for the laugh!
Valeria September 15, 2012 at 01:54 AM
"Give me a good kid and I will show you what a good parent I am" - an aphorism by Dusko Radovic (Serbian journalist and writer).
Just Sayin September 15, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Valeria...From personal experience...I have known good kids from bad parents...and bad kids from good parents. So much for your aphorism...
Madukes September 15, 2012 at 04:00 AM
@Steve S. I don't blame myself for my son's death. There are a myriad of emotions, but I am fortunate that guilt and blame are not involved. This is in part due to therapy, which I started long before my son's death. My son had a dual diagnosis, he had his own therapists and MDs since elem. school. I believe you can't parent an illness. He had both his license and his car taken away at 18. I don't blame the Rousso's for the illness of their child. My comment had more to do with "what do they do now?" Enable vs help. Susan Taub said I didn't follow my own advice. That's partially true, as this has been a learning process. Your last question is difficult to answer. Hindsight is so perfect. With regard to drugs, I think we (all) should be much more proactive, when in reality most of us are reactive. Since emerging from the fog that followed the death of my son, an ongoing process to be sure, I have become much more involved, appalled by all I didn't know about the local drug scene. The kids who are dying aren't necessarily "bad" kids (for those who need labels.) But the bad kids are out there and they will happily get your kid hooked on drugs and are very good at what they do. I will be telling our story at the next Heroin Forum. Parents who think their kids are not at risk are fooling themselves. There were hundreds of NS parents, like most of us here, at the candlelight vigil mourning the loss of their children, mostly sons. If you have kids in HS, get involved.
Violet Flemenbaum September 15, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Thank you for your honesty Madukes. I can't imagine the pain and heartbreak that your family has experienced due to drug addiction. I hope your words of wisdom will reach those readers who are now in your situation. My condolences on the loss of your son.
Mobiusring September 15, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Let's hope this latest tragedy puts a face on the insidious drug use amongst teens on the North Shore. Heroin use, especially, has become pervasive. ALL families are at risk. Educate yourselves. Even an "innocent" marijuana cigarette can be laced with heroin. Just enough to ensure the dealer has a new lifelong client. There are few one-time heroin users. Open your eyes to the symptoms of abuse. And vote for judges that take hard lines against drug dealers in the upcoming elections.
holdini October 04, 2012 at 09:44 AM
I was in the rehab facility with her. it was a place called discovery ranch near provo utah. i had equine therapy with her. she had a lot of problems but i thought she was getting better. i was shocked. she was a good person who would never intentionally hurt someone. but she made a terrible decision. its horrific yo hear about this little girl. i wish the best for carly and both families
Peggy R. October 12, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I am getting confused reading these posts. I don't understand why Madukes said to Susan Taub that their son "did not end up overdosing" , that he "started out overdosing" when as Wissh they wrote "after that rehab won't be as easy as death by overdose, like my son's". Not quite sure what I am missing. Anyway, my sympathies to all for their losses in this screwed up world. I am a single mom of two girls, one is a first year graduate student who is going for her doctorate in physical therapy; the other a freshman in college. Despite living in a pretty affluent suburb, we hardly had anything despite me working full time...could not even go to the grocery store regularly but I was always there for them (physically, emotionally, etc...since many times their dad was too busy). I was fortunate in that both of my girls are like me in that they don't go out partying, drinking, etc... While I do consider part of this the way that they were raised, I also realize that I got very, very lucky with both of them and am very thankful for that.
BullSheit January 05, 2013 at 08:22 PM
The name wealth and happiness explains it all.


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