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Former NFL star Junior Seau drives car off cliff, police say

By Michael Martinez, Sara Pratley and Greg Botelho, CNN
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Police: NFL great drives off cliff
  • NEW: Seau was earlier arrested for allegedly assaulting his 25-year-old live-in girflriend
  • Authorities are investigating the cause of cliff accident
  • Seau was the only person in his SUV
  • He retired in January after 20 years in the NFL and recently has been star of a reality show

(CNN) -- Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau was arrested on a domestic violence charge in Oceanside, California, shortly after midnight Monday, just hours before he drove his car off a cliff in nearby Carlsbad, authorities said.

The domestic violence incident began when Oceanside police were called to Seau's residence to investigate a report of an assault late Sunday night, police said. The alleged victim is Seau's 25-year-old live-in girlfriend, who had minor injuries that didn't require medical treatment.

The girlfriend told police that Seau assaulted her during a verbal argument, authorities said. Seau wasn't at the residence when the police arrived, but he later agreed to return home after he called his girlfriend and spoke to officers on the scene, police said.

Seau drove home and was arrested at 12:20 a.m. Monday on the charge of spousal assault with injury, police said. He was released on bail, police said.

Some time later Monday morning, Seau drove his white Cadillac SUV off a cliff and landed on the beach at Carlsbad, police said.

Seau was conscious and talking to paramedics when he was transported to nearby Scripps La Jolla Hospital for treatment, authorities said.

Video: Report: NFL star launches off cliff

Law officers are investigating the cause of the accident, in which Seau was the vehicle's only occupant, police said. Carlsbad is 35 miles north of San Diego, California, where Seau played most of his career.

Drafted into the NFL in the first round in 1990 out of the University of Southern California, Seau debuted with the San Diego Chargers, establishing his Hall of Fame potential as a Pro Bowl staple.

He left San Diego before the 2003 season to join the Miami Dolphins and spent parts of the last four seasons with the New England Patriots before retiring in January. Seau amassed 1,526 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions in his 20-season career.

Off the gridiron, Seau was the star of "Sports Jobs with Junior Seau," a reality show on the Versus network that followed him as he took on various occupations, from baseball batboy to bullfighter to pro hockey equipment manager.

The Versus website portrays Seau, 41, as "taking on the coolest, dirtiest and most fascinating jobs in sports. NFL legend Junior Seau will get beat up, worn down and well schooled."

The retired NFL star, who is divorced and the father of four children, is also head of a namesake San Diego-based nonprofit organization, which has donated nearly $4 million for services and scholarships to children and young adults.

He's also a restaurateur, with two establishments called Seau's in Southern California.

Born Tiaina Baul Seau Jr. in San Diego, he was a Parade magazine football All-American out of Oceanside High School.