Contra Costa Fire District to Probe Crash into Pole in California

The Contra Costa Fire District will investigate why an assistant chief was driving a district truck last week when he crashed into a telephone pole in Martinez and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Martinez police arrested assistant fire chief John William Ross after he ran his district-issued pickup truck off Franklin Canyon Road at 12:18 a.m. Thursday, Martinez Cmdr. Mark Smith said.

Ross was given a drunken driving citation. A friend picked him up at the police station later that morning, Smith said.

Part of the phone pole was felled by the crash, he said.

Ross, 52, is one of about 25 fire district officials that drive district vehicles home so that they can respond to after-hours emergencies, Chief Keith Richter said.

"It's an honor system that the district employees will use the vehicles for district business and not for personal use," Richter said.

The truck was damaged in the crash, he said.

Ross got off work around 5 p.m. the day of the crash and was not on district business that night, Richter said.

An investigator will try to determine where he was going, he said.

Ross could not be reached for comment Monday.

Police will take the case to the District Attorney's Office to request criminal charges, and Richter has spoken to the county counsel about the procedure for an internal investigation.

An outside investigator will look into the arrest, he said.

Ross runs the district's support services division and has responsibility for the fire prevention bureau, maintenance and equipment services, the workshop and the supply depot, Richter said.

He is one of two assistant chiefs who, along with Richter, act as rotating duty chief, in charge of the large department during off-hours.

Distributed by the Associated Press