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, was charged Wednesday with murder, driving under the influence of drugs and driving on a suspended license.
Prosecutors allege that Ronnie Ramon Huerta Jr., 21, was driving under the influence of marijuana at the time of the Feb. 10 crash that killed 54-year-old Mark Kristofferson of Lake Stevens, Washington. A second cyclist, Alyson Lee Akers of Huntington Beach, was airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs with major injuries.
Huerta was treated for moderate injuries prior to his arrest, and was released the following day on $75,000 bail.
He entered a not guilty plea Wednesday morning and was booked into county jail on $1 million bail, the standard amount in a murder case. He’s due back in court April 18 for a felony settlement conference.
The California Highway Patrol 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 about 9:25 a.m. The car struck the two cyclists before hitting a berm and rolling over.
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.
The Associated Press reported that his license was suspended in December for being “a negligent vehicle operator” and for failures to appear in court.