HS football coach in Tulare arrested on suspicion of DUI

FRESNO, Calif.

Police officers pulled over 49-year-old Darren Bennett near Caldwell Avenue and Ben Maddox Way. Police say they got reports of a reckless driver in the area just before 8 p.m. When officers found Bennett driving his car, Lt. Candido Alvarez with the Visalia Police Department said they first thought Bennett was suffering from a medical condition.

"Someone going into a diabetic shock is very similar to someone being under the influence of alcohol," Alvarez said.

Alvarez said officers called in a medical unit, which ruled out that theory. Bennett was also arrested for obstructing or delaying a police officer because he was slow to follow the officer's commands.

Bennett's booking photo shows the coach with a bloody face. Police say officers had to put him on the ground, but could not say if that was the source of his injuries. Bennett was coaching on the field Friday night. The Tulare Union Redskins beat the Delano High school Tigers 36 - 33 in Delano.

Bennett did not want to comment about the incident.

The school district says Bennett has been their football coach for 18 years. He is also a P.E. teacher at the high school and that is still the case.

"I don't know if tables were turned, that if it was another coach that it would be the case," Trisha Love said. Her son plays on the team, though she does not know Bennett personally.

Other parents like Elisa Barraza are standing by Bennett.

"It had nothing to do with coaching, it was his off time," she said.

Bennett has led the football team to three Valley championships and 11 Yosemite league titles. The district says he has an outstanding and spotless record as a teacher and coach.

"I definitely think he's supposed to be a role model to the kids," Love said. "I think it's unfortunate."

"I think everyone makes mistakes but you live and learn and move forward and still support the team no matter what," Barraza said.

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