The Orange County Register's Kimberly Edds has a fascinating post today about California Highway Patrol officers determining an Orange County Sheriff's deputy was drunk Monday when he crashed his Mercedes into a Toyota, causing it and the elderly couple inside to collide with a tree in Laguna Niguel--just a half hour after the same deputy was allowed by a couple of his fellow deputies to keep driving after the Mercedes wrecked with a Lexus outside Dana Point City Hall.
At the time of the crashes, 13-year veteran Deputy Allan James Waters was on paid administrative leave, but for what the sheriff's office isn't saying.
The deputies on Golden Lantern took a report before letting the drivers be on their way, Assistant Sheriff Mike James confirmed for Edds. What Waters did not know was he was being followed by a citizen so concerned with his erratic driving, she called 9-1-1. Then came the crash less than a mile away in Laguna Niguel, where Waters wasn't so lucky with the CHP officers, who sent the deputy to county jail with a driving-under-the-influence arrest.
The CHP report states, "due to Waters' level of intoxication, he unsafely turned his Mercedes to the right." That set off a chain of events that led the Mercedes to crash into the Toyota with Benjamin and Dolores Molina inside. She had to be hospitalized.
Edds writes on the "OC Watchdog" blog:
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Among the questions The Watchdog has heaped on the Sheriff's Department: Was Waters under the influence when he crashed in front of City Hall? Did deputies investigating the first traffic accident miss the signs of intoxication? Or did deputies give a break to a troubled colleague?
James answered that the department is looking into all aspects of the case, claiming, "We are taking this very seriously. We have to do a very thorough and complete investigation. We're not going to speculate what happened."
Waters apparently spent two nights in lockup. The CHP is awaiting results on a test of the alcohol level in the deputy's blood around the time of the accident.
He probably knew the deputies who took the Dana Point call, seeing as how he is assigned to the same division.