Trial for DUI Driver Accused of Killing CHP Officer to Begin recently reported on their website that opening statements in the trial of a DUI driver is slated to begin in Riverside County Superior Court on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Court documents indicate that the driver, 39-year-old Michael Joseph Callahan, has previously been convicted of DUI. He is on trial for his role in a fatal DUI crash in 2019, that killed 53-year-old California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Lawrence Licon.

According to California Highway Patrol records, Sgt. Licon, a veteran motorcycle patrolman, was working an extra shift on April 6, 2019. On that date, there was a “super bloom” of California wildflowers in the areas surrounding Lake Elsinore that attracted a high volume of crowds and heavier traffic than usual.

Sgt. Licon had pulled over a southbound driver of a Chrysler sedan on the I-15 Freeway for unspecified traffic violations. As he was interacting with the driver, Callahan, driving a Toyota Corolla, veered off the pavement and onto the shoulder of the freeway to get around the traffic congestion. 

It is estimated that Callahan was driving at approximately 65 miles per hour on the right dirt shoulder until he crashed into the stopped Sgt. Licon, his motorcycle, and the stopped sedan. The officer had no time to react.

Sgt. Licon was rushed to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar.  The officer later died as the result of injuries he suffered in the crash.

The occupants of the Chrysler suffered minor injuries and were treated and released. Callahan also suffered minor injuries. He was treated and taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. 

If convicted of the charge of second-degree murder, DUI, and related charges, Callahan is facing between 15 years to life in prison.

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