Ontario Councilman Bowman In Alcohol-Related Hit-And-Run Incident

By Mark Gutglueck
Ontario City Councilman Jim Bowman on Monday July 8 was involved in what has been described as an alcohol-related hit-and-run incident.
According to information available to the Sentinel, around midday July 8, 2024, Bowman was southbound on Euclid Avenue and driving at a rate that was in excess of the speed limit. Near the intersection of Euclid and Mission Boulevard, he rear-ended a car in front of him that, apparently, was slowing to make a right turn. According to several accounts, Bowman did not slow sufficiently and his truck hit the vehicle, which was being driven by a woman. The meeting of the front of Councilman Bowman’s truck with the back of the car occurred with some degree of force, enough, according to three people, to result in the lady suffering whiplash and breaking her arm.
Bowman, according to several narratives, did not stop after the collision and headed further south, without stopping, until he was near the 60 Freeway, roughly two miles from the scene of the accident.
There are some differences in the accounts provided to the Sentinel from that point forward. Two people have told the Sentinel that Bowman at some point near the freeway pulled over and called 9-1-1. His 9-1-1 call came in after at least two other calls made from near the scene of the accident, the Sentinel is informed.
Bowman ended up in the hospital, claiming to have some type of medical issue. His blood was drawn at the hospital, according to one version of events. Another version is that some metric of his blood alcohol content was made, although in this rendition it is not clear whether this was achieved through a blood sample, urine analysis or breathalyzer. Information available to the Sentinel is that Bowman had a blood alcohol content of 0.05, which is below the threshold of 0.08, the legal standard for being under the influence of alcohol in California.
Reports clash as to whether the Ontario Police Department arrested Bowman or not. Two individuals who would seem to be vantaged with a clear perspective of the events insisted to the Sentinel that the councilman was arrested. However, the Sentinel’s effort to find such documentation was unsuccessful. The police department had no immediately available record of arrest and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department showed no record of his being booked at the West Valley Detention Center or any of the sheriff’s department’s other holding facilities.
One individual with the city stated that he had strong suspicions that the documentation relating to the incident is being purposefully withheld.
The Sentinel was told that as of Wednesday, repairs to Bowman’s truck were already under way or had been completed.
A narrative that popped up from a source sympathetic to Councilman Bowman was that he had a medical issue and that he had taken some medication, referred to as “cough syrup.”
It has been known generally and specifically around Ontario for decades that Bowman has had recurrent, indeed consistent, issues with alcohol. He was displaced from his position as fire marshal with the Foothill Fire District in the 1980s when he was arrested for driving under the influence in a Foothill Fire District vehicle in Huntington Beach, 56 miles outside the boundary of the Foothill Fire District. Bowman has been seen in public in Ontario so intoxicated that he was staggering when on his feet. There have been reports that on multiple occasions within the City of Ontario over the last two decades Bowman has been stopped by Ontario police officers when he was behind the wheel in a state of inebriation and that the officers opted to take him home without effectuating his arrest.
It is now being bruited about the Ontario community that within the police department, with regard to the current situation, there is a sharp divide among the officers who are cognizant of what occurred Monday. According to this account, the city’s higher-ups are seeking to minimize what occurred on Monday and the department’s officers are being pressured to bury the matter as deep as it can be buried. It is said that some of the officers are in tune with doing just that, as they recognize that by acceding to the preference of the controlling majority of the city council and the senior echelon of city administration, the city’s police officers will remain in the vaunted position of being employed by the best paid law enforcement agency in San Bernardino County, earning that pay by going along to get along. Nevertheless, there are, it is reported to the Sentinel, a few “Pollyanna” types within the department who feel Councilman Bowman should be held accountable for what he did, despite his powerful position and political primacy in Ontario. They, it is said, want the department to follow through on having him answer for having engaged in a hit-and-run in which a woman was injured. As a consequence, the Sentinel is informed, there is some degree of unrest/distrust within the police department.
The Sentinel contacted Mayor Paul Leon, City Manager Gilbert Ochoa, Police Chief Mike Lorenz and Bowman with regard to what had occurred on Monday.
There was confirmation that Bowman had been involved in an accident.
The officials, however, would not deal directly with questions as to whether Bowman immediately left the scene of the collision; whether he traveled well over one-and-three-quarter miles before he stopped, at which point he made a report by phoning 9-1-1; whether Bowman had alcohol in his system at the time of the incident; whether the police department sought to ascertain his blood alcohol level; what processes the department was applying to the incident; whether the department was according Bowman some level of special treatment;  whether Bowman had been arrested; and whether he had been booked.
The Sentinel sought from Lorenz whether, if Bowman indeed was not arrested and booked, an explanation of why not arresting him and not booking him was appropriate.
The Sentinel sought to ascertain whether the police department was keeping any documentation relating to the case from being disclosed that would routinely be available if it did not involve a city official and, if so, for what purpose.
The Sentinel asked Leon, Ochoa and Lorenz if they had spoken to Bowman since the incident and inquired of Bowman whether he had contact with Leon, Ochoa and Lorenz or other members of the city council since the incident.
The Sentinel attempted to determine which of the Ontario Police Department’s officers had direct interaction with Bowman relating to the matter.
The Sentinel sought from Lorenz whether he had spoken with Ochoa regarding the matter and, conversely, asked Ochoa if he had spoken with Lorenz about what had befallen Bowman.
The Sentinel tried to ascertain whether Lorenz had briefed the mayor and members of the council as to what the incident entailed and what the substance of the exchanges involved.
Neither Ochoa nor Bowman responded to the Sentinel’s inquiries. Mayor Leon indicated he had been kept in the dark about matter. On Wednesday, he told the Sentinel that he knew nothing at all about the incident, Bowman’s involvement in it or whether Bowman had been arrested.
Lorenz told the Sentinel at 9:35 a.m. on Thursday, July 11, “To address your specific questions would be difficult at this time as this is an ongoing investigation. The public position someone may hold has no bearing on this or any of our investigations.”
Lorenz added, “Ontario PD is not split about this incident because our officers did their job. They did their job professionally, with care and compassion for all parties involved and will submit a thorough and complete investigation to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for review.”
Lorenz said, “We will be putting out a press release about the incident today.”
An issue is, the Sentinel was told by an attorney, that a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or greater is grounds for a DUI arrest if the driver was involved in an accident that resulted in injury to another. The Sentinel, however, was not able to find in the California Penal Code or California Vehicle Code any provision of the law that imposes a special circumstance which lowers the driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated threshold to a blood alcohol content of 0.02 if an injury occurs.
The Sentinel sought from Lorenz but did not resolve whether the consideration that Bowman’s blood alcohol content was reported at 0.05 – below the 0.08 DUI threshold – obviated any potential of his being arrested and/or prosecuted for driving under the influence or while intoxicated.
Furthermore, the Sentinel sought to pursue with Lorenz the potential criminal implication of Bowman having left the scene of the accident. The Sentinel asked Lorenz if Bowman making the 9-1-1 call some five to ten minutes after he rear-ended the other vehicle from a place that was some two miles removed from where the accident occurred put the hit-and-run issue to rest. Lorenz did not address that question.

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