My News L.A. reports that a suspected DUI driver has pleaded not guilty to the charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
According to Orange County court documents, Christopher Ellis Johnstone, 26, was initially charged with driving under the influence of a drug causing injury. They upgraded the charges against him to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after the crash victim died on June 4.
Johnstone has been ordered to appear in Court at the Westminster Justice Center on Monday. Additional charges against the defendant include possession of a controlled substance and attempting to conceal or destroy evidence.
The charges are in relation to a crash that happened on Memorial Day when Johnstone was driving his 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV southbound on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. The victim, a 26-year-old woman riding a 1975 Honda motorcycle, was in front of Johnstone’s vehicle and slowed for a traffic signal when Johnstone’s SUV rear-ended her. The accident happened just north of Liberty Drive.
The victim was rushed to an area hospital and later died due to the injuries she suffered in the collision.
A spokesperson for the Huntington Beach Police Department told reporters that Johnstone was given field sobriety tests, which he failed and was arrested at the scene.
Our firm’s attorneys and staff would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of this young woman during this difficult time.