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5 children hurt in Highland rollover crash, driver arrested

Five children between the ages of 6 and 10 were hurt when thrown from an SUV in a rollover crash in Highland, and the driver — a San Bernardino man who is father to two of the injured and uncle to the others — was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said Sunday, May 3.

Eric Ortega, 28, was also taken into custody on suspicion of child cruelty after the 7:13 p.m. Saturday crash  in Highland, jail records showed. He remained in custody Sunday in lieu of bond on $100,000 bail.

Ortega was driving a white 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe west on Greenspot Road near Santa Ana Canyon Road when the SUV went off the roadway, into a dirt field, and rolled.

Cal Fire’s San Bernardino Unit said two of the children had to be taken to a hospital immediately. All the juveniles were taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda. Sheriff’s deputies said Sunday they had “severe” injuries.

Ortega was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton before going to the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

The victims were not seat-belted, the fire department said.

The reason for the crash remained under investigation, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said, but “Ortega displayed obvious signs of intoxication and was taken into custody.” The department’s accident investigation team was handling the case.

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