Bad moonshine is being blamed for a death in Muskogee on North 37th Street. The victim is Colton Hooper, 24.
"Others are sick from it," a police officer at the scene said. "We need people to know this stuff is out there and it's dangerous."
Moonshine is homemade whiskey and is not subject to stringent alcohol sanitation standards.
Police are advising residents to avoid any homemade liquor.
"We will have to wait for a medical examiner's report to be sure" it was the cause, the officer said. "But meanwhile, people shouldn't be drinking this stuff."
UPDATE: Capt. Joe Daniels of the state's ABLE Commission, which regulates alcohol in the state, said homemade liquor is illegal for a reason.
"It's a felony because it can be dangerous on both ends - in production and when people drink it," he said. "When you're distilling liquor, you can burn down a house or kill people easily. When people who don't know what they're doing make it, the process can leech toxins into the alcohol and kill people."
Using lead solder is a common mistake, he said, because the distillation process leeches the lead into the alcohol.
"Old timers used to take some of it and light it on fire and look at the color of the flame," he said. "They'd say 'if it burns red, you're dead'."
Another common danger is using a condenser that came from a car, which can leak glycol into the alcohol, even if the equipment has been thoroughly cleaned.
A third danger is the inclusion of methanol in the homemade alcohol, which in some quantities is dangerous and even fatal. Relatives of the victims of last night's incident tell MuskogeeNOW that one victim was rushed from Muskogee's Eastar Hospital to Saint John's hospital in Tulsa with methanol poisoning.
"Old-timers used to say you had to get rid of the heads and tails," Daniels said. "Because when you distill alcohol, you make ethanol, which is the part you drink, but you also produce methanol, and if you don't know what you're doing and start collecting as soon as you start producing, you can have a lot of methanol in there."
He said even commercial producers have to watch out for methanol, which isn't easy to detect.
"Unless you have some really good testing equipment, you can make a mistake pretty easy."
According to MedScape.com:
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a commonly used organic solvent that, because of its toxicity, can cause metabolic acidosis, neurologic sequelae, and even death, when ingested. It is a constituent of many commercially available industrial solvents and of poorly adulterated alcoholic beverages. Methanol toxicity remains a common problem in many parts of the developing world, especially among members of lower socioeconomic classes.