Prosecutors: Woman charged with 7th OWI after huffing bought canned air minutes before crash

WEST BEND -- An OWI charge was filed Tuesday, Jan. 21 against a West Bend woman prosecutors said was huffing before she caused a three-vehicle crash on Friday, Jan. 17 near Paradise Drive and Silverbrook Drive in West Bend. According to prosecutors, Kristine Ruppert, 47, purchased "duster spray" at Walmart minutes before the crash happened -- and stands accused of her seventh OWI offense.

Officials responded to the scene of the crash involving three vehicles at 1:39 p.m., the criminal complaint said, and the "duster spray" was purchased at 1:27 p.m.

Investigators spoke with a man who said he was stopped at a red light in the north left turn lane, waiting to turn northbound onto Silverbrook when he was hit from behind. He said he wasn't sure who hit him, but witnesses indicated it was Ruppert who crashed into the rear of one of the vehicles involved. A woman in that vehicle suffered chest and back pain, and her vehicle struck the man's vehicle.

According to the complaint, Ruppert said, "I'm not really sure" what happened and said she wasn't sure whether she was hit, or she hit someone. When advised that witnesses indicated she caused the crash, she said, "Probably, yeah," the complaint said. Ruppert continued that she was, "Going through a lot of stuff," telling investigators she was dealing with withdrawals from Effexor and hadn't used prescription medication that she just picked up at Walmart, nor any intoxicants. She said she remembered leaving Walmart, but couldn't recall how the crash happened -- adding that she was "in a really bad way."

Investigators suspected she had been using an inhalant, the complaint said, with prosecutors indicating based on the damage at the scene of the crash, Ruppert was traveling a high rate of speed without attempting to stop. The complaint said there were no signs of impairment.

The complaint said a Walmart bag wasn't initially searched, but a subsequent search revealed "duster spray" in Ruppert's purse, with the plastic wrap broken open, and the nozzle broken.

Ruppert was arrested for OWI but denied using the spray. She was taken to the hospital for a blood draw.

Prosecutors noted in the complaint Ruppert's license was revoked on May 30, 2018, for 510 days due to non-compliance with an alcohol assessment interview. While she had an occupational license at the time of this crash, she was only allowed to drive between 9 a.m. and noon, and 3 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Fridays.

The following dates were provided in the complaint regarding Ruppert's six prior OWI convictions: