Police: Loren LeBeau legally drunk in crash that fatally injured Donovan Maldonado
Loren LeBeau was over the legal alcohol limit for drivers when his car hit a family and killed 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado, Fresno police said Monday.
Police said the blood toxicology test on LeBeau recorded a 0.11 blood-alcohol level, which is above the state’s 0.08 limit for intoxicated driving. LeBeau, Central High School’s varsity boys basketball coach, was put on paid administrative leave last week by Central Unified School District.
Donovan died hours after the 9 p.m. Wednesday collision that also seriously injured his father, Jesse, and his 18-month-old sister, Bella.
The tragedy has clearly gripped the community, which turned out for a third straight day of fundraising Monday night. The family’s spokesman said he is “proud to say I am from Fresno and Clovis” because of the outpouring of support.
(HOW TO HELP: A fund has been set up for the Maldonado family at Bank of America. To donate, go to any Bank of America branch and ask to have the money placed in the Maldonado Memorial Fund account.)
It’s not clear whether LeBeau was alone in the car when the accident happened, Fresno police Capt. Andy Hall said Monday.
He said police received reports that one to three other people were in the car with LeBeau, although he was alone when he returned to the scene a few minutes after the crash.
Police said LeBeau failed a field sobriety test and smelled of alcohol at the crash scene.
LeBeau told investigators he was on his way home from boating at Bass Lake and had not drunk any alcohol after leaving the lake. The investigation is not complete, Hall said.
He said LeBeau was driving close to the 40 mph speed limit and that speed wasn’t a significant factor.
Police investigators also think lighting was not a major problem.
Still, city workers on Monday fixed several street lights near the crash scene on Shepherd Avenue. Public Works director Patrick Wiemiller said none of the lights being repaired illuminated the crosswalk where the crash occurred. Wiemiller said he asked for repairs after he went to the crash scene to assess the nighttime conditions.
“All crosswalk-related lighting was working” at the time of the crash, he added.
Donovan’s and Jesse Maldonado’s bicycles were about three-quarters of the way through the crosswalk on the north side of Shepherd Avenue, Hall said.
LeBeau “had plenty of opportunity to see this family in the crosswalk,” Hall said. “It shouldn’t have affected a sober driver driving the speed limit.”
Police also are investigating whether LeBeau’s headlights were turned on.
Support floods in
Community financial support for the family has exceeded $15,000 and continued to stream in Monday.
Amanda Kincade said a car wash at Break the Barriers in northeast Fresno had raised $9,000. Kincade said her co-workers at Pacific Gas & Electric Co. also were donating to help pay the family’s bills. Jesse Maldonado worked part-time for the utility company. About $6,500 was donated at another car wash Saturday at a Pinedale auto shop.
On Monday evening, friends and family of the Maldonados held signs and buckets for donations at intersections along Shepherd Avenue, from Perrin to Millbrook avenues.
Annette Turner, a family friend, said a similar effort on Friday raised more than $4,600. She did not have a count of Monday’s proceeds, but said all of the money would be transferred to a fund set up for the Maldonado family.
The fund has been set up at Bank of America, said family friend Brian Cain, a pastor at Grace Place in Clovis. The money will pay for rehabilitation costs and other needs the family will have as Jesse Maldonado and his daughter, Bella, recover, Cain said.
Cain said the family lives in a second-story apartment and will have to move because Jesse Maldonado will likely be in a wheelchair for weeks.
He said the family was overcome by the outpouring of support.
“I am proud to say I am from Fresno and Clovis because some of the stuff that has happened is overwhelming,” he said. “Someone called and said they would cover all the flowers for the funeral service and someone offered to donate a plot for burial, and groups have offered to cover funeral costs.”
Others volunteered to pay for hotel stays for out-of-town family members or buy gift cards to pay for family meals.
Cain said the family will hold a private service for Donovan, probably over the weekend.
But they also want to hold a public service, likely next week, to thank the community.
“They would love to include the community because they are deeply moved and appreciative by the outpouring,” Cain said.
He said Jesse Maldonado, who was in fair condition Monday at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, will undergo surgery later this week and could be released Friday.
Bella, the younger sister, remains in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center, but she is stable and her prognosis seems positive, Cain said.
By Marc Benjamin