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Cops thought powder in man's car was heroin. It was Grandpa's ashes

Authorities in Maine thought that white powder they found at a car crash site on Saturday was heroin. But they were the cremated remains of Robert C. Curtis, who died in 2013.
Authorities in Maine thought that white powder they found at a car crash site on Saturday was heroin. But they were the cremated remains of Robert C. Curtis, who died in 2013. Brewer & Sons Funeral Home

After a car crash Saturday in Manchester, Maine, police seized 48 grams of a white powdery substance found in the glove compartment.

It looked like heroin to them.

It was a dead man's ashes.

They were the cremated remains of Robert Clinton Curtis Sr., the father of Kevin Curtis, the owner of the car.

Robert Curtis, a native of Maine, was 75 when he died on March 12, 2013, at his home in Florida after a brief illness, according to his obituary. A fan of the outdoors, he had eight sons, three daughters, 29 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

“The kids were really mad when they found out that (the police) took Grandpa, but I tried to make a joke of it," Kevin Curtis, of Augusta, Maine, told the Kennebec Journal.

"I said, ‘This is the first time he’s ever been in lockup and we’ll just get him out.'”

Curtis had loaned his Chevrolet Impala to a friend to go to the grocery store. He didn't know his friend, Jess Legendre, was driving with a suspended license.

Legendre crashed the car into a utility pole and ended up in a ditch, the newspaper reported. While looking in the glove box for paperwork to show authorities, Legendre appeared to pass out.

Emergency responders thought he was under the influence of drugs and gave him opioid overdose-reversing Narcan. When the news of the crash first came out, it was reported by The New York Post and other publications with headlines proclaiming that a man crashed a car while overdosing on heroin.

Sheriff's deputies confiscated two small bags of powder they found in the glove box.

On Tuesday, Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason confirmed that the powder was human ashes, noting to local reporters that a glove compartment was "a rather unusual manner in which to keep the remains of a loved one, for sure."

Curtis said his sister had given him the ashes recently and he's waiting for an urn he ordered. She has more of their father's ashes in the trunk of her car because she's moving.

“I didn’t want them if they were in the house, the kids ripping them open and having them everywhere,” he told the Journal.

He said some of the ashes spilled out during the crash; some landed on his friend's pants.

Legendre was charged with operating a vehicle after habitual offender revocation and falsifying physical evidence. Because there was no evidence that he was under the influence of drugs at the time, there reportedly were no drug-related charges.

Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers most wanted fugitives.

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