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Riverside police chief says he was 'disoriented,' on medication when he crashed city car

February 11, 2010 |  6:55 am

Riverside Police Chief Russell Leach, who crashed a city-owned vehicle this week, has apologized and said he was on prescribed medication at the time.

Leach, in an interview with KPSP-TV, said he was "obviously disoriented" during the incident, in which his car went off the road and hit a light post and a fire hydrant.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating.

"Chief Leach was driving on Central Avenue and allowed his car to drift off the road," CHP Inland Division Chief Jeff Talbot said. "I understand that two of the tires were down to the rim."

Riverside's city manager put out a brief statement Tuesday saying Leach had been involved in a single-car, noninjury crash. Leach has been placed on medical leave, the statement said.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jaybee Brennan would not comment except to say there had been an accident. She referred all questions to City Atty. Greg Priamos, who did not return calls for comment.

Talbot said Riverside Police Deputy Chief John De La Rosa contacted him Tuesday and asked the CHP to investigate the accident.

"He thought it would be in the best interests of everyone for us to do it," Talbot said. "They wanted us to come in because we are completely unbiased."

The CHP often handles such investigations when they involve other law enforcement agencies.

Leach recently helped lead a massive assault on the notorious East Side Riva gang in Riverside. And on Feb. 3 he warned against drinking and driving on Super Bowl Sunday.

"Designating a sober driver should be on the top of everyone's Super Bowl party list," he said. "It's just one of several easy steps to help save lives."

-- Shelby Grad and David Kelly