Sgt. Steve Licon, 53, a veteran of the California Highway Patrol was killed in a car crash involving a suspected drunk driver. According to a KTLA news report, officials said Licon was conducting a traffic stop on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore just north of Nichols Road the afternoon of April 6 when he was fatally struck. Officials said 36-year-old Michael Callahan of Winchester was driving under the influence when his Toyota Corolla hit Licon, his patrol motorcycle and the Chrysler sedan that that sergeant had pulled over.
Callahan, the sole occupant of the Corolla, sustained minor injuries. The man behind the wheel of the Chrysler, the woman in the front passenger seat, and two girls in the back, were not injured. CHP officials said Callahan was taken into custody on suspicion of DUI. He may also face a murder charge. Licon was a 27-year CHP veteran, who was liked and respected by everyone, officials said. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of Sgt. Steve Licon for their heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
DUI Crash Statistics
According to CHP’s 2015 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), one person died and 15 were injured as a result of DUI collisions in Lake Elsinore. In Riverside County as a whole, 90 fatalities and 888 injuries were reported due to alcohol-related crashes during the same year.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the Toyota, Michael Callahan, may have been under the influence when he struck the Sgt. Licon and the other stopped vehicle. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. A person who causes a fatality while driving under the influence could face felony DUI as well as vehicular manslaughter or even murder charges, especially if he or she has had prior DUIs causing injuries.
In addition to facing criminal charges, DUI drivers may also be held civilly liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Since the CHP officer in this case was killed in the line of duty, his family would be entitled to death benefits. In addition, they may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, and other potential parties seeking compensation for their tremendous losses. An experienced California DUI victims’ lawyer will be able to help them better understand their legal rights and options.