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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Lancaster

Charges Filed in High School Crash

October 21, 2000|RICHARD FAUSSET and JOHN ORTEGA

Lancaster resident John Bower, 36, was charged with felony drunk driving and child endangerment after allegedly driving his car into the courtyard of Paraclete High School, Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said Friday.

The incident occurred after 5 p.m. Thursday, when Bower drove his Jeep Wagoneer to the school to pick up his son from football practice, according to Judy Hibbs, an employee at the school.

The driver allegedly plowed into a courtyard next to the parking lot, knocking over tables and benches.

Eight students received minor injuries in the incident, ranging from scrapes to broken bones. Seven of them--all football players--were treated at local hospitals. All were released from the hospital by Friday afternoon, school officials said.

The reckless endangerment charge stems from the fact that Bower's elementary-age daughter was in the car with him at the time, said Lt. Wallace Fullerton of the sheriff's Lancaster station.

Bower, whose bail was set at $50,000, was in custody Friday at Twin Towers Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

Football coach Jeff Cortez said that because six of the injured players are on the varsity squad, he was considering bringing up junior varsity players for the school's game Friday against Marshall High in Pasadena.

Hibbs said the Paraclete community felt lucky, as the abbreviated school day Thursday meant fewer students than usual were on the patio at 5 p.m.

"We're a Catholic school, and we're definitely feeling God's presence here," Hibbs said.

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