Cal Athletes Run Over After Car Occupants Harass Victim

Jennifer Jamall is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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Two Cal athletes were run over by a car on Telegraph Avenue last week, severely injuring Cal football offensive lineman Mike Tepper and taking him out for next season.

Three of the passengers in the car were arrested after police said the driver intentionally backed into Tepper and former Cal volleyball player Camille Leffall near the corner of Dwight Way at Telegraph Avenue at 1:15 a.m. on June 26.

Tepper sustained injuries to his right leg, including a broken fibula and a dislocated tibia. Leffall sustained minor injuries, including cuts on her knees, a cut on the inside of her foot and a back injury.

Tepper and Leffall were walking north on Telegraph when a dark sedan pulled up alongside them. The passengers began making lewd comments to Leffall, said Berkeley police Officer Joe Okies.

"They were saying things like ‘Hey baby' and ‘Lemme have your number,'" Tepper, 19, said. "Camille blew them off, told them she wasn't interested, and we kept on walking."

As the pair was crossing the street, the car pulled in front of them, blocking their path, Tepper said. The men in the car continued to harass Leffall, 22, at which point Tepper stepped in and told them to leave, Leffall said.

The driver then backed the car into Leffall, Tepper said. Tepper pushed her out of the way as she was being struck but was then hit himself.

As Tepper fell to the ground, his foot was caught in the tire. The car then pulled forward, running over his ankle a second time, Leffall said.

A Berkeley police officer who witnessed the incident called for assistance after the car sped away eastbound on Dwight Way, Okies said.

"There were two cops there within 10 seconds of us hitting the concrete," Tepper said. "I was bleeding pretty profusely. There was blood everywhere."

Police chased the car, which fled and collided with a parked car on Parker Street near College Avenue, Okies said. Three of the four occupants in the car ran away but were caught after a brief chase, he said.

Police arrested Johnny Smith, 33, who was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, fleeing the scene of a noninjury accident, obstructing a public officer in the course of duty and a parole violation. Calvin Kelley, 29, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and a probation violation. Scott Slaughter, 28, was arrested and charged with obstructing a public officer in the course of duty.

The fourth occupant in the car was not charged because he is a minor and did not resist arrest, Okies said. He could not say which man was the driver.

Tepper said he was told by police that the men in the car were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"That really shocks me, that they were completely sober and fine," Tepper said. "I don't know who in their right mind would purposely run over somebody."

An ambulance took Tepper to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center shortly after the incident. Before they arrived, police had to make a tourniquet on Tepper's leg for the deep cut on his ankle.

"The EMTs and doctors at the hospital were pretty amazing," Tepper said. "They pumped like triple the amount of morphine into me than for a normal person. I'm not the smallest guy."

It took doctors at the hospital more than an hour to stop the bleeding because the cut hit an artery that led directly to his heart, Tepper said.

Tepper underwent surgery for the injury Tuesday morning, leaving him with a plate and nine screws in his right leg and rendering him immobile for eight weeks.

Tepper was instructed by doctors not to jog until at least November and will be sidelined for this football season after months of rigorous summer training.

"That's the biggest thing that's bugging me, that I'm losing a year of playing time," Tepper said. "It hurts when you push for a goal, you're almost there, and then it gets taken away."

Cal football coach Jeff Tedford said in a statement, "We are proud of the courage Mike showed Saturday night ... He is a quality young man and we expect him to make solid contributions for us in the future."

Hundreds of messages quickly sprang up on the Bear Insider, a Web site for Cal fans, wishing him a speedy recovery. One post from Tepper's father, Gus Tepper, assured fans that he will heal quickly.


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