Congregants of the Santa Barbara campus of the Reality Church in California were left baffled Sunday when they were informed that their popular executive pastor, Gerald Torres, 43, had been placed on administrative leave after he was involved in a drunken motorcycle crash that sent his passenger and 8-year-old son, Judah, flying.
A report from Noozhawk, said Torres was riding a 1998 Yamaha westbound on Casitas Pass Road just after 4:00 p.m., Saturday when he veer off the road and struck a traffic sign and fence.
He was arrested by local police on suspicion of DUI then released in the care of a local hospital with major head injuries and cuts to his extremities. He was released from the hospital on Monday according to the church.
His son, Judah, suffered only minor abrasions and was released to a family friend at the scene.
While the church was thankful that their pastor and his son had survived the crash, Pastor Brick Merrick who also serves as an elder in the church said in an address Sunday that it was a "terrible" and "sinful" mistake that was out of character for their pastor.
"Pastor G had been drinking and his blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit," Merrick confessed to the church in a recorded address Sunday.
"So Pastor G has been charged with a DUI and is together with us facing the consequences of that. We are very thankful for his life. That he's OK. It could have gone another way. We are very thankful for Judah," he said.
"It must be said that this is extremely out of character for Pastor G. This is not a pattern in his life. This is not something he does. This is not something that would be expected. It's actually baffling on all levels," he continued. "For many of us, Pastor G is the best man we know. He's the best dad I've ever seen. So this extremely out of character behavior comes as a great shock."
In a formal statement from the church's elders published on their website, they noted: "We acknowledge that our church wrestles with sin and failure. Gladly, we also experience forgiveness and restoration. This is the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that we have all sinned greatly and that we have been forgiven because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross and we are restored to relationship with God."
"Pastor Torres has always pointed us to the grace of God, where we find forgiveness and help in our time of need. Now it is our opportunity to surround him as a community, extend grace, and point him and his family to the grace of God. Gerald and his family need to know that we love them deeply and are determined to walk through this with them," they added.