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Fatal October Crash: Alcohol in Driver's Blood 4 Times the Legal Limit

Facebook screenshot of John Knowles Jr. of Capistrano Beach, who died in a crash on Coast Highway last October.
Facebook screenshot of John Knowles Jr. of Capistrano Beach, who died in a crash on Coast Highway last October.
The driver believed to have attempted to pass a student driver on Pacific Coast Highway last October before killing himself and his passenger in a crash had a blood-alcohol level of .35, authorities said Friday.

John Knowles Jr., 43 at the time of the fatal crash, was driving with a blood-alcohol average more than four times the legal limit to drive in California, Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

His passenger, Kerensa Donselman of Capistrano Beach, had a blood-alcohol level of .20, the lieutenant said. No criminal charges will be pursued as both died, he said.

The four-vehicle crash along a narrow two-lane stretch of highway sent three others to the hospital: a 49-year-old man and 50-year-old woman in a van, as well as a 53-year-old woman inside a Honda.

The 15-year-old student driver Knowles attempted to pass was treated at the scene of the accident and the driving instructor was unharmed.

The Volkswagen Jetta Knowles was driving split in two from the force of the crash, witnesses said.

The Orange County Register reports Knowles pleaded guilty in Texas to driving while intoxicated in 1996.

A .35 blood-alcohol level is considered life-threatening, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Symptoms of that level of drunkenness include "loss of consciousness, danger of life-threatening alcohol poisoning and significant risk of death in most drinkers due to suppression of vital life functions," according to the NIAAA.

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