Girl's Pills Send 8 Kids to Hospital, Police Say

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Eight middle-school students were hospitalized Monday after taking a prescription drug, and a 13-year-old classmate was in police custody on suspicion of giving them the medication, authorities said.

The eight children, all eighth-graders at McFadden Intermediate School in Santa Ana, were given Atarax, an antihistamine and sedative prescribed to the classmate to prevent itching.

During lunch on campus, the girl gave four of the pills to the eight students, who apparently cut the pills in two and then each swallowed a half, said Sgt. Raul Luna, a spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.

A school employee called police about noon after finding one student semiconscious and two students vomiting, Luna said. The five others were lethargic, he said.

The ill children, all 13 or 14 years old, were taken to Coastal Communities Hospital in Santa Ana and Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, where they were listed in good condition.

The girl suspected of giving out the pills was at Santa Ana Jail awaiting transfer to Juvenile Hall and could be charged with dispensing drugs without a prescription, Luna said.

Because of the children's ages, none of their names were released.

Both police and school officials are investigating the incident.

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Times wire services contributed to this report.

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