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Woman Claims She Was Hit by Coach’s Wad of Gum

December 16, 1987

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A woman who claims she was hit by a wad of gum tossed by Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka says she won’t press criminal charges but has hired a lawyer to seek some kind of compensation.

″He should have a little more restraint in his actions,″ Terry Ornelas, 38, of Napa, said Tuesday. ″He shouldn’t take it out on the fans.″

The incident took place while Ditka was being escorted off the field by police at halftime of Monday night’s 41-0 San Francisco 49ers victory over the Bears.

San Francisco District Attorney Arlo Smith said there appears to be no basis for a battery charge against the Chicago coach.

″It looks from the instant replay that this might be a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct,″ he said. ″We will decline the penalty.″

″I was sitting there watching the 49ers when all of a sudden I felt something hit me in the back of the head,″ said Ornelas. ″It felt like someone thumped me on the head with their finger.″

Dave Schotte, Ornelas’ attorney, said he would like an apology and that the National Football League should fine Ditka.

An Associated Press picture shot at halftime shows Ditka following through on an energetic toss, but the thrown object is only a blur as it flies toward a group of fans.

Policeman Richard Galliani said the gum ″was found and booked as evidence. ... The officer who was there told me it was a big wad of gum.″

″This is not exactly a top priority,″ dryly commented Sgt. Jerry Senkir, spokesman for Police Chief Frank Jordan.

Senkir refused to touch the gum wrapped in toilet tissue after removing it from the evidence envelope at a news conference Tuesday.

Update hourly