7:28am

Fri November 4, 2011
The Commonwealth

Kids Discover Meth Lab in Western Kentucky

The carelessness of a methamphetamine cook led to a group of children finding a meth lab Wednesday just a few feet from a rock where they had sat down to rest inside Brookwood Mobile Home Park off Morgantown Road.  Twins Sean and Stephen Claborn, 10, of Lot 248, had been walking with several other children when Stephen saw a plastic bottle with liquid inside and a piece of tubing coming out of the top. The children talked among themselves about the bottle just before Stephen picked it up. Something on the outside of the bottle felt like sand, he said.

The children had no idea what they had found.

Just as Stephen picked it up, a neighbor yelled out of her window for the boy to get away from the bottle. Stephen tossed the bottle down. The neighbor then came outside, took the bottle, placed it in a plastic bag and called police.

“It’s really scary,” said the boys’ mother, Michele Claborn. “I’m just glad they’re all OK.”

At a time when many children would have been inside for the night with their families, these youngsters were instead outside in the cold, providing information to police and firefighters and clamoring around drug investigators to learn more about the lab, which could have killed or seriously injured them.

Because some of the bottle’s contents touched Stephen, he had to go inside his home, bathe and throw away the clothes he was wearing. The chemicals used to make meth are not only highly combustible but also poisonous.

The children’s discovery enraged Tammy Allen, whose daughter, Cydney Romines, 13, was with the boys when they found the lab.

“It could have possibly blowed up on them, and they could have been killed,” Allen said. “I’d like to see every single person involved in this be put in jail.

“If they can’t be safe in their own yard, where can they be safe? Right now I’m very angry, very frustrated.”

Mandy Meade, 11, was part of the group of children who found the lab. The child expressed her concern that until Wednesday night, no one had ever told her or the other kids what a meth lab looks like or that it could erupt into a fireball in their hands.

The children have often heard speakers talk about the dangers of cigarette smoking and using alcohol or drugs. But they never knew that a cola bottle could be anything more than just a cola bottle, Mandy said.

Mandy walked over to Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force Director Tommy Loving and asked him to please send someone into her school to warn other kids.

“I’m just glad nothing ever happened,” Mandy said. “They (meth cooks) should not be acting like a little kid themselves and experimenting.”

Limiting access to pseudoephedrine - the essential ingredient to make meth - would significantly decrease the number of meth labs in Kentucky, Loving said.

“We can nearly eliminate the problem of meth labs and children being injured by them if we can convince the Kentucky legislature to take the simple step of making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug,” Loving said. “Those in the legislature that don’t support this really need to listen to law enforcement and not the drug companies that make millions of dollars in profit from selling pseudoephedrine.”

The incident remains under investigation. As of press time, no arrests had been made.