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Tests show cocaine in driver's system

(ran SS edition of Metro & State)

The driver who struck a car full of University of South Florida students last November, killing three of them, had cocaine in his system, according to investigators.

In the days after the accident, Mitchell H. James Jr., 40, was charged with being drunk and running a red light Nov. 29 at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Fletcher Avenue.

Friday, investigators said lab tests on his blood show he had cocaine in his system the night of the accident.

His 1979 Cadillac struck a 1986 Pontiac driven by Leanna Dawson, 19. She and passengers Jackie Ayala, 18 and Magid Tarhi, 20, died. David Sanders, 18, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with injuries.

James' blood alcohol level was .23, almost three times the legal limit, investigators said.

He is charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter and one count of DUI with serious bodily injury. He remains in jail on $250,000 bail.