Former Tennessee All-American and Colorado Rockies star first baseman Todd Helton was charged with driving under the influence on March 18th in Knox County, according to court records.
Helton was cited for driving under the influence after he crashed his 2019 Ford F-150 pickup into a telephone pole according to the citation. No other vehicles were involved.
According to police, Helton told law enforcement that he had taken the sleeping aid Ambien about four hours before the crash. The officer that arrived to the scene spotted a “travel cup” in Helton’s truck that smelled like alcohol.
In a statement released on Monday by Helton’s attorney, Stephen Ross Johnson, Helton required emergency medical care. The five-time All-Star has since entered a treatment facility.
“Todd is currently in a residential treatment program outside of East Tennessee, receiving the care he needs,” the statement read. “He realizes there are parts of his behavior that need to change, and he is focused on doing just that.
“While there has not been a final court decision about his citation, Todd is still taking action.”
Tennessee head baseball coach Tony Vitello was asked about Helton’s situation after the Vols’ 6-5 loss to ETSU on Tuesday night. Helton is listed as a member of Vitello’s staff on UT’s website, but Vitello clarified that Helton has never been a salaried member of Tennessee’s baseball team.
“Todd has not been a member of the coaching staff,” Vitello said. “I know that was reported, and he’s on the website because, with Coach Serrano’s staff he joined on as Director of Player Development, which is an NCAA rule that you’re allowed to have that position. But because of Todd’s good will towards the program and his financial status, he was never on salary.”
As for what’s going on with Helton, Vitello made it clear that he supports the former Vol who he says he has a “personal relationship” with.
“Todd is a University of Tennessee first family member, but he’s a member of the Tennessee baseball family too. So the first thing I did when I heard the news was to reach out and to see if he was okay,” Vitello continued. “To my knowledge, he’s safe. Apparently, ya know, he’s dealing with some things. I know he was having trouble sleeping, because we do have a personal relationship. The last time I saw him was a few weeks ago. To me, he was doing good. I know he’s been working out and is in good shape. But he was having trouble sleeping, so there’s your Ambien thing.
“That’s me being as honest as I possibly can be with y’all. We certainly have no intentions of turning our back on him because of what he’s done at this place. We want to make sure, again, that he’s safe and getting through things and getting what he needs.”
Helton retired from Major League Baseball in 2013 following 17 seasons in the big leagues. He spent his entire career with the Rockies and was the first player to have his jersey retired by the organization.
This isn’t the first drinking and driving incident Helton has been involved with, though. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to drunken driving in a Denver suburb.
In October, a Knox County judge dismissed a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a crash that took place at a West Knox Country apartment.
Four years after his retirement from baseball, in 2017, Helton returned to Tennessee’s baseball program as Director of Player Development. According to the school, in his volunteer role, Helton is responsible for maintaining alumni relations, assisting with on-campus recruiting, collaborating with UT’s coaching staff, and helping Tennessee’s current players make informed decisions about pursuing professional baseball careers.