A Sacramento driver was charged on Wednesday, Nov. 29, for allegedly causing a lethal multi-car pile-up on California’s Interstate 80 near San Pablo, across the Bay from San Francisco.
Fred Lowe, 47, fled the crash scene at Interstate 80, leaving six wrecked vehicles and four dead bodies behind. Police suspect Lowe was driving while intoxicated.
Lowe was charged with four counts of murder, drunk driving, and felony hit and run for his part in the Nov. 25 incident, according to Mercury News.
Lowe is being held on $1.15 million bond, but that figure could rise after his arraignment, Mercury News reports.
According to witnesses, Lowe was driving his blue Mercedes eastbound on I-80 through Contra Costa County near the San Pablo Dam Road exit, at about 8:10 p.m., when he hit a white Nissan sedan, sending it spinning across the median and into oncoming traffic.
The Nissan, which was carrying five people, also overturned as several other cars collided with the Nissan or drove off the road to avoid a collision.
Meanwhile, Lowe continued to drive eastbound and got off at the next exit, El Portal, where he hit a parked car. He then tried to flee on foot. A witness gave his description to police, who found and arrested Lowe.
The Nissan was being driven by Jared Horn, a UC Berkeley sophomore and pitcher for the school’s baseball team. Horn was driving his family back from a father-son basketball tournament. Horn was the only survivor of the five in the vehicle. He was hospitalized with “serious injuries” according to East Bay Times but was able to be released the next day.
His father, Daryl, 50, was killed instantly, the East Bay Times reports, along with Horn’s 14-year-old brother Joe, 13-year-old cousin Baden Biddle, and Horn’s uncle, 52-year-old Troy Biddle.
“We cannot imagine what Jared is going through right now, and the thoughts and prayers of our entire Cal baseball community are with Jared and his family as they go through this time,” Cal Bears coach Mike Neu said in a statement. “Jared is a respected and beloved member of our team. … and we will give him any and all support that we can, as he goes through this unthinkably difficult time.”
Athletics Director Mike Williams expressed similar sentiments: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Jared and his family after this inconceivable tragedy. They are clearly in our thoughts during this difficult time and we are here to offer any and all help and support they may need.”
Other people involved in the accident were hospitalized, including the driver of a Honda and two people each from a Lincoln SUV and a Mazda SUV. These three cars all crashed into the Horns’ Nissan or crashed trying to avoid it, the East Bay Times reported.
History of Drunk Driving
Lowe had multiple prior convictions for driving under the influence, and a conviction for robbery. At the time of the accident, Lowe had an invalid license—it had been suspended for drunk driving.
Charges of murder are rare in cases of drunk driving. In this case, prosecutor Derek Butts explained, Lowe’s record, plus “the nature of the collision and his driving prior to it, and the flight from the scene, and the high alcohol content in the defendant’s blood,” demanded the harshest possible charges.
“That all showed what we look for, which is such a high degree of recklessness that it displays implied malice, which supplies the necessary mental state for a second-degree murder,” Butts said.
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