The mother of the celebrated Frustaci septuplets was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after she tried to cross a highway center divider, California Highway Patrol officials said Thursday.
Patti Frustaci, 32, was driving from Las Vegas to Barstow on Interstate 15 with her three surviving septuplets when she was arrested Monday, CHP Officer Don Lowery said. She was released five hours later on her own recognizance.
Her 2-year-old children were released to their father’s custody.
The family gained world attention when Frustaci, a Riverside English teacher, gave birth to seven children by Caesarean section on May 21, 1985, at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. The babies were transferred to Childrens Hospital of Orange County. Four of the premature babies died within 16 days.
Lowery said that Frustaci’s van became stuck in sand in the middle of the highway when she tried to make a U-turn across the center divider.
CHP Officer William Gadberry stopped to aid Frustaci. He reported that he noticed signs of intoxication when he talked to her, Lowery said.
Frustaci told Gadberry that she decided to drive home to Riverside with the children after she had a tiff with her husband earlier in the night. The family was staying in a Las Vegas hotel while Sam Frustaci, an industrial salesman, conducted business.
Lowery said Frustaci tried to make the U-turn after “a change of heart” and planned to return to Las Vegas.
Frustaci failed a field sobriety test, a CHP spokeswoman said.