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Riverbank councilman arrested for DUI, child endangerment in Oakdale collision

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POSTED February 20, 2012 9:44 p.m.

OAKDALE (AP) — A city councilman was arrested Monday after police said he struck a car while driving under the influence then ran from the scene, leaving his injured young son behind.

Riverbank Councilman Jesse James White, 23, was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence and child endangerment.

White was driving his Corvette in the Northern California community of Oakdale around 1 a.m. when he side-swiped a parked Chevrolet Cruze sedan, according to police. As bystanders tried to rescue the 4-year-old son, who suffered a bloody nose from a deployed air bag, White ran from the scene, witness J.D. Visser said.

Visser and his friend chased down White and held him until officers arrived.

“I could smell the alcohol on him,” said Visser, 19, whose truck was hit by the parked sedan when he says White sideswiped it.

White “had to be going pretty fast because he hit the (Chevy) really hard,” Visser said.

White, who posted $25,000 bail, did not immediately respond to requests for comment by phone and email.

The child was treated at a hospital and released to his mother.

White was on probation for “wet and reckless driving” when he was elected to the Riverbank council in 2008. The charge applies when alcohol is found to be a factor in a reckless driving case, but the defendant may not have been over the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08.

The councilman previously faced felony drug charges after police said they found cocaine and marijuana in his home and vehicle in 2010. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge, legally allowing him to keep his seat on the council.

Mayor Virginia Madueno and two other council members backed an effort to remove White from office after the 2010 drug arrest, against criticism that it was a waste of taxpayer money. The city later dropped the effort after spending more than $53,000.

Interim City Manager Pam Carder said Madueno declined comment on Monday’s arrest.

“Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for him to take care of the substance abuse issues he obviously has,” Councilwoman Jeanne Tucker, who also was involved in the removal effort, told the Bee. Tucker added that she hoped he would do the right thing and resign from office.

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