Family of Cathedral Catholic High School coach injured in head-on car crash

By City News Service

A 30-year-old Santee man suspected of drunken driving drove the wrong way on state Route 52 and caused a head-on crash on March 17, killing himself and sending four people in the other vehicle to the hospital with major injuries, authorities said.

The four people injured were the wife and three children of Cathedral Catholic High School head basketball coach Will Cunningham. Medics took Cunningham’s wife Alisa, a softball pitching coach, and their three children, Taylor, Jayden and Logan, to area hospitals — all with major injuries, according to a CHP officer.

Matthew T. Leonardo drove a 2012 Ford Focus west in eastbound lanes and crashed head-on into a 2001 Dodge Caravan driven by Alisa about 9:10 p.m. on March 17, according to the California Highway Patrol and the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office. The crash occurred just east of Santo Road in the Tierrasanta area of San Diego.

Leonardo died at the scene and “had the distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage about him,’’ CHP Officer Tommy Doerr said, adding that toxicology tests would be done to determine if Leonardo was too drunk to drive.

Both vehicles were traveling 65-70 mph when they collided, he said.

Cathedral Catholic High School released the following statement:

“The Cathedral Catholic community would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support of Coach Will Cunningham and family. The well wishes have been pouring in for the past 36 hours; everyone from students, parents, and alumni, to rival schools and even members of the general San Diego community.

“On Tuesday, March 19, Cathedral Catholic High School held a campus Mass where prayers were offered for the Cunningham family at our St. Joseph’s Liturgy. St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of Cathedral Catholic High School, A Patron Saint of fathers.

“Kimberly King, director of communications at CCHS, said,”The St. Joseph’s Liturgy Mass was in place already, for March 19, The Feast of St. Joseph. What better way for the Cathedral Catholic community to come together in prayer for this distraught father, Coach Cunningham, than on this St. Joseph’s Liturgy Mass, all prayers were offered toward the Cunningham family.”

“There were about 2,000 people in attendance at the March 19 Mass, including members of their rival varsity basketball team at St. Augustine’s High School.

“Cathedral Catholic will continue to keep you informed of conditions of the Cunningham family, as information becomes available. Please check with Rady Children’s Hospital and Sharp Hospital for further information.

“At this time, we’d like to thank you for your support and continue to request your continued prayers of support for the Cunningham family.

“The family will have a CaringBridge web page set up within the next 24 hours. We will post the link tomorrow when it is set up and this will provide the appropriate information that the family wishes to share. Again, no visitors at this time so the family can have time to rest and focus. We will let our community know if they can help in any way. Please check all the latest via our campus web page at”