In other items: Bomb squad clears backpack on ferry; suit on Qwest logos dismissed by judge; 85 wreaths stolen from grave sites; service for soldier open to public; UW engineering dean leaves for new job; driver pleads guilty in fatal accident; and local novel cited on "Today" show.

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Five Lynnwood High School freshmen were taken to local hospitals yesterday after they apparently overdosed on an over-the-counter cold medication.

The students were being observed at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds and Providence Everett Medical Center and were expected to recover, an Edmonds School District spokesman said.

Yesterday morning, a teacher noticed that several students appeared ill. When questioned, they admitted they’d swallowed large amounts of Coricidin Cough & Cold medicine.

The medication contains dextromethorphan, sometimes used recreationally as a psychedelic, though another ingredient in the drug — acetaminophen — can cause liver toxicity when taken in large amounts. Emergency services were called and the students transported to the hospitals.

Bainbridge Island

Bomb squad clears backpack on ferry

For about three hours last night, the State Patrol investigated a suspicious backpack that someone dumped in a garbage can aboard a state ferry as it docked at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.

The backpack turned out to be harmless.

Around 3:45 p.m., someone reported seeing a young man leave the pack in a garbage can aboard the ferry Puyallup and run, said State Patrol Trooper Scott Harter. The ferry, which had departed from Seattle, was evacuated, the bomb squad was called and other ferries from Seattle were diverted to Kingston, he said.

The backpack was X-rayed and then opened by a bomb expert; inside, there was a thermos, a calculator and some papers, Harter said. No one reported a missing backpack and officials don’t know who left it, he said.


Suit on Qwest logos dismissed by judge

A King County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that large Qwest logos on the former Seahawks Stadium are illegal.

Judge Robert Alsdorf threw out the suit Monday, ruling it was filed too late. Alsdorf said a 21-day period to challenge the city’s permitting of the Qwest signs started Aug. 19, and the suit was not filed by a group called Save Our Skyline until Sept. 28.

The lawsuit alleged the signs were larger than city regulations allow. Qwest, a Denver-based telecommunications company, bought naming rights to the football stadium in June, paying $75 million in a 15-year deal.

City Attorney Tom Carr argued that the signs were legal, in part, because they were painted on the stadium’s roof rather than raised above it.

Knoll Lowney, attorney for Save our Skyline, could not be reached for comment.


85 wreaths stolen from grave sites

Eighty-five Christmas wreaths were reported stolen from grave sites at a Spanaway cemetery.

The wreaths were placed on headstones throughout Fir Lane Memorial Park, 924 176th St E. Investigators believe the wreaths were stolen sometime between Friday night and Monday afternoon, said Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.

Crime Stoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County is offering up to $1,000 reward for information. Anyone with information about the thefts should call Crime Stoppers at 253-591-5959.


Service for soldier open to public

The public is invited to a memorial service Monday for Army Pfc. Andrew Ward, a 25-year-old Seattle man killed in Iraq Dec. 5.

The service will start at 11 a.m. at Greater Mount Baker Baptist Church, 2425 S. Jackson St. in Seattle. A local pastor will give the eulogy, and music will be provided by Daystar Baptist Church in Renton, where Ward’s father is pastor.

Ward was killed when his unit was hit by enemy fire, Army officials said. He was born in Seattle and grew up in Renton.

He left behind his parents and stepparents, seven siblings and several nieces and nephews.

For more information on the service, call 206-919-6130.


Engineering dean leaves for new job

Denice Denton, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Washington, was named chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, yesterday.

Denton joined the UW in 1996, and this year she was one of nine scholars who received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. During her tenure, the university built the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering.

Denton is the second high-profile departure at the UW this fall. Last month, the dean and vice provost of undergraduate education, George Bridges, was named president of Whitman College in Walla Walla.


Driver pleads guilty in fatal accident

A 30-year-old Olympia driver, accused of hitting a man and driving several blocks with him embedded in his windshield last year, pleaded guilty this week to vehicular homicide.

Police and prosecutors said Troy Hagen was driving on Rainier Avenue South in November 2003 when he hit William High, 47, of Kirkland so hard that High was impaled in Hagen’s windshield. Prosecutors said Hagen drove several blocks, then pulled High’s body from his vehicle and left him in the road.

Prosecutors said they plan to ask for a two-year prison term when Hagen is sentenced Jan. 7.

A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed by High’s family against Hagen.


Local novel cited on “Today” show

A Seattle author has hit the literary jackpot — her novel has been selected as the NBC “Today” show book club’s reading selection.

Stephanie Kallos’ novel “Broken for You” (Grove Press) was just released in September. Her book was recommended by Sue Monk Kidd, a fiction writer whose book “The Secret Life of Bees” has spent months on the best-seller list. Selection by the “Today” show book club guarantees a national readership for Kallos’ first novel.

“Broken for You” is about an elderly Seattle recluse who has been diagnosed with brain cancer. When a younger woman takes a room in her Capitol Hill mansion, the two learn to find happiness in unexpected ways. Kallos, 49, appeared on the NBC morning program yesterday to discuss her book, which took seven years to write.

Times staff and news services