SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — In an exclusive TV interview, renowned Bay Area news anchor Frank Somerville sat down with KRON4’s Pam Moore for nearly 30 minutes to discuss an array of topics. Somerville was arrested after a DUI crash in downtown Oakland in December of 2021. The crash happened on Dec. 30 in the area of Grand Avenue and Broadway, and it was caught on video.
In the months leading up to the crash, Somerville made headlines, which included his suspension by then-employer KTVU for disagreeing with the station’s coverage of the Gabby Petito case.
Speaking for the first time on camera since the crash, Somerville opened up and discussed topics such as the DUI, slurring his words on air, and his battle with alcohol and substances.
Somerville got ‘trashed’ in his apartment, wanted to get Taco Bell
It was around Christmas time, and he spent it alone without his family, Somerville recalled. He didn’t see them at all during the holidays, and it was “a really sad time.”
Somerville admits he was drinking and got very intoxicated in his apartment on the night of the DUI crash on Dec. 30, 2021.
“I got trashed,” Somerville told KRON4. “I mean there’s no other way to say it. I got trashed in my apartment, and I wanted to go to Taco Bell, which is two and a half blocks away from where I live. I made the idiotic decision to drive. I had absolutely no business at all to drive — at all.”
Somerville says he rear-ended another car that was going around 8 to 12 mph and stopped at a light. After impact, the driver got out of his car and Somerville continued driving his black Porsche into an Audi sedan until ramming it into a pole (watch in video player below).
The Audi was totaled, and the other driver was slightly injured.
“I have absolutely no recollection of the accident,” Somerville said.
Somerville said he could have killed someone that night. He is thankful he didn’t and thinks about that every day, adding he wishes he could apologize to the victim.
“I was close to as comatose as you can be,” he said. Somerville said his blood alcohol content (BAC) was at 0.24% at the time of the DUI. The legal limit in California is 0.08%.
Slurring on the air
From the suspension to the DUI, Somerville says 2021 was the year everything “exploded.” Somerville audibly slurred on the air during a May 30, 2021 newscast, and that was one of the multiple incidents where he made headlines before the December DUI.
Somerville said he took two Ambien — a drug used to help the user fall asleep — before going on air for a 10 p.m. newscast, adding he mistakenly took the Ambien instead of the prescription drug was supposed to take.
The clip of Somerville slurring on the air has garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
He denied the slurring was related to alcohol.
“The time when I slurred on camera was actually — it’s been reported that I was drinking — I actually wasn’t,” he said. “I was taking what I thought was one of my prescription drugs, instead it was two Ambien.”
Days after the newscast, Somerville began a leave of absence “to focus on his health,” The Mercury News reported. He was off the air for more than nine weeks, which he said he spent at rehab, before returning that August.
After telling KRON4 about the slurring incident, Somerville admitted to having had problems in the past with drugs and alcohol.
“At the absolute worst, it would have been almost every night,” Somerville said. “What I was trying to do quite honestly, was just escape… I was so sad and lonely from the divorce and missing my kids and the pandemic sure as hell didn’t help because now, I was all alone.
“I was a total mess.”
But while Somerville insisted that he had put his drug use behind him, he was less clear when it came to his use of alcohol.
“The only times I’ve had a drink in the last six to eight months would be when I went to a Sharks game,” he said.
“You know most experts say if you’re addicted, you should not ever drink any,” replied Pam Moore.
“Yeah, I’m not prepared to say I never will,” he replied. “It’s still a work in progress.”
Issue with KTVU coverage of Gabby Petito leads to suspension
Just weeks after returning in August from his leave of absence, Somerville made headlines again.
In late September 2021, KTVU suspended Somerville because of a disagreement the anchor had with management over the coverage of the Gabby Petito disappearance and subsequent homicide, The Mercury News reported.
Somerville believed the media disproportionately covers tragedies of young white women as victims while stories of their Black and brown counterparts are largely ignored, according to sources who spoke to The Mercury News.
Somerville has two daughters, one of whom is Black and adopted.
“I thought the coverage across the country of Gabby Petito was insane,” he told KRON4. “There was no reason for it other than she was a cute white kid. But for some reason, I was suspended over that. I still, to this day, am not sure why.”
Somerville declined to elaborate on his suspension.
What’s next for Frank Somerville?
Since the suspension and the December 2021 DUI, Somerville has not been back on the air for Channel 2 or any other station. He tells KRON4 he has attended counseling, is completing a DUI program and is hoping for a second chance.
“Well, technically, what I’d really like is to go back to working,” Somerville said. “I mean that’s what I love, I love what I do. I love anchoring.”
Whether it’s in the Bay Area or somewhere else, Somerville hopes to someday be back in the anchor chair.
He also hopes his story can be a lesson for others.
“Ask for help. That’s really the biggest lesson out of all of this,” he said. “Do not be afraid to ask for help. That’s what I hope people get out of this.”
Watch the extended interview in the player below
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or prescription drug addiction issues, here are some resources that are available in the Bay Area:
- San Francisco Mental Health Hotlines
- Bay Area Crisis Hotlines
- San Francisco Suicide Prevention Hotlines
- Bay Area Substance Abuse Resources
- San Francisco Drug Abuse Hotlines
- Bay Area Council on Drugs & Alcohol