DUI Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Connection to Fatal Crash in Indio

KESQ reports that a man arrested in connection to a fatal crash in Indio has pleaded not guilty to felony DUI charges at the Larson Justice Center on Tuesday.

On December 19, at approximately 9:45 p.m., Indio Police Department officers responded to a crash on Indio Springs Parkway east of Golf Center Parkway. 

Investigators determined that a white GMC pickup truck traveling westbound on Indio Springs Parkway crossed the center line and went into eastbound traffic lanes. The pickup truck’s driver, 36-year-old Alexander Frank Ortega, collided head-on with a white Saturn sedan occupied by a man and a female passenger.

“When they collided, it was a pretty serious accident,” Indio Police Department spokesperson Ben Guitron told reporters. “The occupants of the Saturn had to be extricated by Indio Fire, Cal Fire, and then they were transported by ambulance to the hospital.”

The man and woman in the Saturn were rushed to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital. Despite all life-saving efforts made by doctors and hospital staff, sadly, the man died of his injuries a short time later. 

So far, authorities have not released any further information about the female passenger in the sedan.

Ortega was immediately arrested on suspicion of DUI and taken into custody and was charged with one felony count of murder, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and driving under the influence of alcohol .08% or more causing bodily injury. Ortega is also facing  sentence-enhancing allegations of causing great bodily injury in connection to the injured passenger.

Ortega was booked into the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio, where he is currently being held on a $2 million bond.

Court records indicate that Ortega had a previous DUI arrest in 2014.

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