Photo: Tour de Palm Springs
Photo: Tour de Palm Springs

A Desert Hot Springs man accused of barreling through a group of Tour de Palm Springs cyclists at 100 miles per hour, killing one of them, had a history of speeding and other traffic violations, including three citations in the span of one month, according to court records.

Ronnie R. Huerta Jr., 21, of Desert Hot Springs, is accused in the Saturday morning crash that killed 54-year-old Mark Kristofferson of  Lake Stevens, Washington, who was pronounced dead at the scene. A second cyclist was airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs with major injuries and a laceration to her head, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Huerta was treated for moderate injuries, then arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, but was released the following day on $75,000 bail, according to county jail records.

The CHP reported that Huerta was eastbound on Dillon Road near 30th Street in Indio Hills, traveling about 100 mph, when he lost control of  a 2006 Ford 500 sedan that began swerving across the roadway at 9:25 a.m. The car struck the two cyclists before hitting a berm and rolling over.

Authorities are still investigating whether Huerta may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Riverside County court records show Huerta has been cited for speeding four times since July 2015, with three of those stops occurring in the early part of 2017.

Last February, he was stopped for speeding on Monterey Avenue, north of Country Club Drive in Palm Desert, and was stopped on two more occasions last May, court records show.

On May 2 last year, he was stopped for speeding on Interstate 10, near Date Palm Drive in Cathedral City, and was stopped again on May 18 on Palm Drive near Camino Aventura, near Desert Hot Springs. Between the speeding violations, he also was cited last April in Coachella for running a stop sign and using a cell phone while driving, according to court records.

His license was suspended in December for being “a negligent vehicle operator” and for failures to appear in court, according to the Associated Press.

Huerta is tentatively slated to appear in court in April for the crash.

–City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *