Report sheds new light on Fresno coach's deadly DUI crash

August 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno police have reached a final conclusion on the crash that killed a 7-year old boy and Action News has learned about a conversation the Central High School basketball coach had immediately after hitting two bikes -- a collision that ultimately killed Donavan Maldonado.

The crash ended one life and may have ruined a few more. Police say Loren Lebeau may have realized that right after he hit two bicycles on the Sugar Pine Trail in northeast Fresno three weeks ago. They say he made several phone calls and admitted to one friend that he had "screwed up."

Action News got the newly released report from police Tuesday and it has a lot of new information about what Lebeau said after the crash -- something we haven't heard at all up to this point. The report also throws a new wrinkle in the court case against Lebeau.

The growing shrine honoring crash victim Donovan Maldonado has morphed into an anti-DUI campaign. Police say Loren, Lebeau, the drunk driver who hit and killed the 7-year-old, should've stopped for Maldonado and his father crossing the intersection on bikes, even though one nearby light was out.

"What we're talking about here is not a bad intersection," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. "It is a bad driver who was intoxicated."

Fresno public works employees have since fixed the light, but much of what was damaged in the collision is not fixable. Police investigators say Lebeau may have known that as soon as he hit the Maldonados. They say he dragged Donovan for about 800 feet after the initial impact, and just kept going after the boy came loose. A little while later, they say he called a friend who lived nearby.

"What the friend told us, that Loren had screwed up, that he thought he hit somebody and asked his friend what to do and it was at that time that his friend told him to return to the scene," said Dyer.

Lebeau's attorney says his client may have had a .11 blood alcohol content, but he wasn't impaired. And, he says, his client was quick to acknowledge his role in the collision.

"In this case, Mr. Lebeau knew he'd been drinking and yet made the decision to do the right thing and return to the scene," said defense attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt.

Action News was there when police gave Lebeau a sobriety test after the deadly crash last month. Officers described his emotional state as alternately "angry," "apologetic," and "tearful" during their interaction with him. They say he asked investigators if the Maldonados were okay, but acknowledged, "He can't be okay. Look at my car."

Police say this was the first collision with a bike or a pedestrian at that crosswalk in at least ten years.

Lebeau asked for an attorney before doing any interview, but one of the last things he told officers before going silent was that "never in a million trillion years am I supposed to be sitting in this seat."

Lebeau will still be on paid administrative leave when Central High School starts classes again Wednesday, and is likely to stay on paid leave until his court case is resolved.


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