Police: Junior Seau asleep at wheel

Updated: October 19, 2010, 1:50 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Police say former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau told investigators he fell asleep before driving off a seaside cliff in the San Diego area.

Carlsbad police told the Los Angeles Times in a statement Monday night that "it is believed that Seau fell asleep at the wheel."

Police Lt. Kelly Cain told the North County Times newspaper that the lack of skid marks leading up to where Seau plunged off the cliff in his white Cadillac SUV was consistent with the idea that he fell asleep.

Seau's SUV landed close to the beach in Carlsbad on Monday morning, hours after the former All-Pro was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Seau
Seau

He was hospitalized but escaped major injury.

Seau was arrested on a charge of felony spousal assault with injury, Oceanside police reported in a statement. He was booked into the San Diego County Jail in Vista early Monday morning and posted bail after 3 a.m. PT and was released, the watch commander told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Carlsbad police later responded to a 911 call of a single vehicle off the road and dispatched police and fire personnel. Cain said that Seau's SUV was found on the beach about 100 feet below the roadside. Cain said it wasn't a sheer cliff but was a significant, rough slope.

Seau, 41, was the only person in the vehicle and was transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital. Police said Seau was conscious and remains hospitalized with minor injuries, including cuts and bruises. Seau's attorney, Mike Kinkler, told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Seau is also being treated for a concussion.

"At this point we think he's fine, but we really don't have any comment," said Richard Doan, who answered the cell phone of Bette Hoffman, who works for Seau's foundation. "There are no injuries, but he seems to be a little shaken up."

Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Ohmstede declined to comment on Seau's condition, and it was unclear whether he remained hospitalized Monday night.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing, but Carlsbad police dispatcher Matthew Pinell said late Monday alcohol and drugs are not suspected to be factors in the crash "at this time."

[+] EnlargeSeau Skid Marks
ESPN.comJunior Seau's SUV left tire marks as it went off a cliff and down a steep slope, landing near the beach in Carlsbad, Calif., about 100 feet below the roadside.

Seau was arrested around midnight PT after a report was called in around 10 p.m. The victim was his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend, according to Oceanside police. She told police that Seau assaulted her during a verbal argument. Police said she appeared to have minor injuries and did not require medical attention.

Seau was not at the residence when police arrived. He later spoke with police by phone and agreed to return to his home. He was arrested without incident when he approached the residence, police said in the statement.

Kinkler said that his client's arrest and car accident were two "totally unrelated events."

"One had nothing to do with the other," Kinkler said Monday afternoon. "It's unfortunate the two events happened so close together, but what people are reporting is completely untrue."

Kinkler said Seau was going to meet his assistant, Hoffman, for coffee at about 9 a.m. PT, when his car slid off the road near the corner of the 101 highway and Palomar Airport Road. Kinkler said the accident was because of the rain San Diego has been experiencing the past couple days, not any intentional action on Seau's part.

"This is not what people have said, not even close," Kinkler said.

Seau was a star linebacker at USC before being drafted by the San Diego Chargers as the fifth pick overall in 1990. He led the Chargers to the Super Bowl following the 1994 season and remained in San Diego until being traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2003.

He left football briefly in August 2006 after 13 seasons with San Diego and three with Miami. He signed with the New England Patriots four days later and started 14 of the 27 games he played for them over two seasons. He retired after the 2007 season, then came out of retirement for the final four games in 2008 before again retiring after that season. Seau played seven regular-season games in 2009, all as a backup, and made 15 tackles.

Seau's arrest and car accident were first reported by TMZ.com.

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi and The Associated Press was used in this report.