Bail was set at $4.2 million Thursday for the Sacramento man prosecutors here say was drunk when he plowed his Mercedes into a sedan near San Pablo late Saturday killing two pairs of fathers and sons and injuring other motorists.
Fred Lowe, 47, sat behind glass in a Contra Costa Superior Court holding cell as he faced a judge Thursday on four counts of murder in the deadly five-car collision, in a case that a county prosecutor later called “horrific.”
Lowe will return to court Dec. 14 before Contra Costa Superior Court Judge David E. Goldstein. He remains in Contra Costa County custody.
Lowe is a serial drunken driving offender in Sacramento County with arrests dating to 2005 and license suspensions stretching back even further, Sacramento Superior Court and Department of Motor Vehicles records show.
He was reportedly driving on a suspended license at the time of the Saturday night wreck, said Derek Butts, prosecuting Contra Costa Deputy District Attorney at a brief news conference following the afternoon hearing.
“The entire case is shocking, jarring,” Butts told reporters, calling Lowe’s driving “egregious,” and “extremely reckless.”
On Saturday, Lowe was behind the wheel, authorities say, heading east on Interstate 80 near San Pablo Dam Road about 8:20 p.m., when he collided with a sedan driven by Daryl Horn, 50, of Napa. The collision sent Horn’s sedan over a traffic median and into oncoming westbound traffic where the car was struck again. Horn, who played baseball at Sacramento State in the late 1980s, his son, Joe, 14; Troy Biddle, 52, and his son, Baden, 12, all were killed in the wreck.
The eldest Horn son, Jared, survived with minor injuries. He is a pitcher on the baseball team at University of California, Berkeley, and returned home to Napa following his release from the hospital, according to Cal Athletics.
Family members did not attend the Richmond hearing.
Drunken driving deaths can be charged as murder in California when the alleged drunken driver is a repeat offender. Butts said the crash’s “horrific results” together with Lowe’s prior drunken driving convictions and his attempt to run from the scene made the case to file murder charges.
“There are no ‘slam dunks,’ ” Butts said. “But I’m confident we will achieve success in this case.”