Investigators are looking into why an Orange County sheriff's deputy who was involved in an alleged DUI accident that sent an elderly woman to the hospital was let go a half-hour earlier, when he had another accident.
Deputy Allan James Waters, a 13-year veteran assigned to the sheriff's department's south operations division, was on paid administrative leave and taking medication for a back injury when his 2008 Mercedes collided with a Lexus on Golden Lantern outside of Dana Point City Hall shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, said Assistant Sheriff Mike James.
An accident report was taken by Orange County deputies, and then both drivers were let go, James said.
About a half-hour later, Waters got into another accident on northbound Golden Lantern south of Old Ranch Road in Laguna Niguel.
The California Highway Patrol investigated that accident because it involved a deputy in an area patrolled by the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said CHP Officer Chris Goodwin.
According to a CHP report on the accident, the Mercedes struck a concrete curb, "due to Waters' level of intoxication."
Waters then "overcorrected" his turn, veered left and slammed into the right side of a 2003 Toyota driven by Benjamin Molina, causing it to cross the center median and crash into a tree, injuring 78-year-old passenger Dolores Molina. Benjamin Molina and Waters were unhurt.
Waters was booked on suspicion of DUI and released Wednesday after posting $100,000 bail, according to jail records.
Waters was taking medicine for a back injury, which could have impaired his driving, but it was unclear whether he appeared to be intoxicated in the earlier accident or why deputies let him go, James said.
"There are some significant questions that need to be answered," James said. "There's a possibility that there were no objective signs of impairment at that stop."
In addition to the CHP, the county Office of Independent Review, a watchdog for the sheriff's department that works for county supervisors, is also looking into the matter, James said.
"This is something we take very, very seriously," James said.
He did not say why Waters was on paid administrative leave.
The CHP so far has not filed a case with Orange County prosecutors, Goodwin said.