By Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Pocatello (EASTIDAHONEWS.COM) — The family of a teenage boy sprayed by a cyanide explosive that killed their dog is outraged they weren’t told the device was planted near their home.
Canyon Mansfield, 14, went on a walk Thursday afternoon with his family’s 3-year-old yellow Labrador, Casey, on a hill behind their Pocatello home on Buck Skin Road.
“I see this little pipe that looked like a sprinkler sticking out of the ground,” Canyon told EastIdahoNews.com. “I go over and touch it. Then it makes a pop sound and it spews orange gas everywhere.”
The orange gas was cyanide, and it sprayed into Canyon’s left eye and on his clothing.
The teen grabbed some snow and washed his eye out but then realized Casey was having problems.
“I look over and see him having a seizure,” Canyon said, holding back tears. “I ran over and he had these glassy eyes. He couldn’t see me, and he had this red stuff coming out of his mouth.”
Canyon ran down the hill and inside the house to his mother.
“He said, ‘Mom, Mom, there’s something wrong with Casey,'” Theresa Mansfield recalled. “We ran back outside and up the hill and by the time we got there, Casey had died.”
Theresa called the police and then contacted her husband, Mark, who is a medical doctor.
“I hurried home, and the first thing I did was try to resuscitate the dog,” Mark Mansfield said. “Unfortunately I exposed myself to cyanide and had no idea.”
It took hours after emergency crews arrived and help from multiple agencies to learn Casey had died from exposure to an M-44.
M-44s are spring-activated devices that release cyanide when they are activated through upward pressure or pulling. The US Department of Agriculture uses the devices to control coyotes and other predators.
“We didn’t know anything about it. No neighborhood notifications and our local authorities didn’t know anything about them,” Mark said. “The sheriff deputies who went up there didn’t even know what a cyanide bomb was.”
The Mansfields have lived in their home nearly 10 years and have never seen M-44s in their neighborhood. They say the one triggered Thursday was planted on the borderline of their property.
“We weren’t aware, and nobody told us,” Theresa said. “There was nothing posted up on the hill saying to beware or be careful.”
Canyon was rushed to Portneuf Medical Center for treatment and his family said they and Bannock County sheriff deputies who responded to their home had blood drawn to make sure they were OK.
On Friday, US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services told EastIdahoNews.com this is the first unintentional discharge of an M-44 in Idaho since 2014.
“Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses,” R. Andre Bell, a spokesman for the US Department of Agriculture, said in a statement. “Wildlife Services has removed M-44s in that immediate area … and is completing a thorough review of the circumstances of this incident … to determine whether improvements can be made to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences happening in the future.”
The clothes Canyon was wearing when the explosive went off now sit in a sealed plastic bag since the Mansfields are unsure what to do with them.
“We couldn’t even have a proper burial for Casey because we didn’t know how to deal with cyanide,” Theresa said. “No one knows how to deal with cyanide.”
The Mansfields said, as of Friday, nobody from the US Department of Agriculture has contacted them to apologize for what happened. They wonder if other explosives may be hidden in the hills surrounding their home.
“If you plant bombs by our house, just tell us,” Canyon said. “By the grace of God I’m still alive.”
His parents say they hope no other family has to endure what they’ve been through.
“300 yards from this swingset next to my house there were 2 cyanide bombs. It kills anything. It almost killed my child and it did kill my dog,” Mark said. “I don’t want it to kill my neighbors.”
Theresa added, “Canyon is lucky to be alive. Thank God. Thank God that he is OK.”