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A convicted drunken driver was charged with second- degree murder Friday for allegedly driving under the influence and triggering a fatal multi-vehicle crash while speeding through rush-hour traffic on a road just east of Riverside.

Anthony Raymundo Lopez, 38, was arrested Wednesday following the wreck that claimed the life of 62-year-old Lamond Mansell of Temecula and involved a total of seven vehicles, including the defendant’s BMW sedan.

Along with the murder count, Lopez is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license and a sentence- enhancing allegation of fleeing the scene of a crime. He’s slated to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

California Highway Patrol Officer Dan Olivas said the convicted felon was going eastbound on Alessandro Boulevard, toward Interstate 215, in an unincorporated area between Riverside and Moreno Valley, when he began maneuvering erratically at high speed about 4:30 p.m.

Sections of the six-lane route have been undergoing repairs for several months, narrowing the drivable space on both sides of the roadway.

“As he approached stopped traffic (at the intersection of Alessandro and Meridian Parkway), Lopez lost control of his vehicle and collided with a Nissan sedan, which was being driven by the victim,” Olivas said.

He said the initial crash set off a chain-reaction collision that damaged five other vehicles. Several occupants suffered minor injuries, while others were unscathed, according to Olivas. Mansell was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses told investigators they thought Lopez might have been racing another driver, but CHP investigators determined there was no evidence to support that contention.

The defendant, who wasn’t hurt, allegedly attempted to leave the scene but was unsuccessful.

According to court records, Lopez has had three separate misdemeanor DUI convictions in the last decade. Records also show felony convictions for spousal abuse, resisting arrest and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

He’s being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail.

–City News Service

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