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Alleged DUI driver pleads not guilty in CHP sergeant's death

 

Last updated 4/10/2019 at 7:38pm

Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Michael Joseph Callahan, 36, was charged Wednesday, April 10 with second-degree murder.

MURRIETA - A man accused of driving drunk and striking and killing a California Highway Patrol sergeant on Interstate 15 in Lake Elsinore was charged on Wednesday, April 10 with second-degree murder.

Michael Joseph Callahan, 36, could face 15 years to life in state prison if convicted of killing Sgt. Steve Licon last Saturday.

Callahan appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon and pleaded not guilty. He remains in custody at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside in lieu of $1 million bail pending a felony settlement

Licon, 53, of Perris, was conducting traffic enforcement on his CHP motorcycle about 4:25 p.m. Saturday when he was fatally struck on southbound Interstate 15, about 1.5 miles north of Nichols Road in Lake Elsinore, according to the CHP.

Moments before, Licon had stopped the driver of a Chrysler sedan for an unspecified traffic violation, and he was on the shoulder of the freeway when Callahan approached from behind, allegedly plowing into the lawmen, his bike and the Chrysler, investigators said.

The gravely injured victim, who had served 28 years with the Highway Patrol, was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died less than an hour later. The family of four in the Chrysler was not hurt.

Callahan was treated for minor injuries and booked into the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside where he is being held without bail. Prosecutors contend he was drunk at the time of the crash, although they declined to reveal his level of intoxication.

According to the District Attorney's Office, he was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in Orange County in 2004, when he was placed on probation and ordered to attend classes in which he was "educated about the dangers of drinking and driving.''

Licon, who had previously held positions in the Baldwin Park and Santa Ana CHP offices, is survived by his wife, Ann, daughter Marissa and stepdaughter Kelly. He had been assigned to the Riverside CHP office since 2013, according to the agency.

 

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