By Jasmine Huda
(KSDK) - A driver said he was in diabetic shock, but police said he was combative. An unusual incident is calling attention to how law enforcement should handle people with medical conditions.
Police in O'Fallon, Mo., spotted Chris Holtgreven, 48, driving erratically down East Terra Lane on April 21. Holtgreven’s car had been swerving between lanes and he eventually drove off the shoulder and stopped at a dead end.
Officers approached the car thinking the driver could be intoxicated. Police said Holtgreven was initially incoherent and rambling. They said he then became combative and punched an officer. Police used a Taser gun to subdue Holtgreven.
It wasn’t until later in the evening that police learned Holtgreven was experiencing insulin shock, also known as hypoglycemia. Holtgreven, who takes insulin, said he had neglected to eat, which can trigger sugar levels to drop.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic emergencies can be hard to detect. Diabetics may appear intoxicated, under the influence of drugs or uncooperative.
O’Fallon Police Chief Jerry Schulte said his department has addressed the issue of diabetic emergencies.
"One of our officers, who happens to be a diabetic, gave the class and he gave us information on what to look for if a person is having a diabetic attack," said Schulte.
A medical bracelet can help emergency responders immediately identify diabetics. Holtgreven said he cannot wear a bracelet because his job requires that he work with electrical equipment.
The American Diabetes Association recommends emergency responders inquire whether a person is diabetic and check for other identification.
Holtgreven said the Taser may have helped jolt his sugar levels back to normal. Still he said the incident should serve as a lesson to all.
"Make sure you eat on my side of it and on the police side of it and the paramedics side of it, try to listen to the person a little bit better,” said Holtgreven.