A veteran California Highway Patrol motorcycle sergeant was struck and killed by a car on Interstate 15 near Lake Elsinore, and the driver was arrested on suspicion of various crimes, CHP officials said Sunday.
Sgt. Steve Licon had pulled over a Chrysler sedan for a traffic stop at 4:26 p.m. Saturday on the right shoulder of the southbound side of the freeway north of Nichols Road when a gray Toyota Corolla slammed into Licon, his motorcycle and the Chrysler, according to the CHP.
Prior to the crash, the Toyota had been driving recklessly, according to a CHP incident log.
The sergeant, who had been with the agency for 28 years, suffered major injuries and was airlifted to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died of his injuries, the CHP said.
The crash snarled traffic and prompted authorities to close all southbound lanes until 3 a.m.
The driver of the Toyota, 36-year-old Michael Callahan of Winchester, was arrested at the scene and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of murder, according to jail records.
He remained behind bars without bail.
In a release Sunday morning, the CHP said Callahan was arrested on suspicion of “multiple charges,” including “driving under the influence.”
Callahan was the only person inside the Toyota and suffered minor injuries, the CHP said.
The four people in the Chrysler sedan were uninjured.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said flags in the state’s capitol will be flown at half-staff in honor of Licon.
“Today we mourn the loss of a husband and father of two who lost his life while protecting the state of California. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends and his many California Highway Patrol colleagues for their devastating loss,” Newsom said.
Licon served with the agency in the Baldwin Park and Santa Ana offices before being assigned to the Riverside area in January 2013.
Law enforcement personnel from various agencies gathered outside Inland Valley Medical Center Saturday night to escort the hearse carrying Licon’s body to the Riverside County coroner’s office in Perris.
The procession was hundreds of vehicles long and included police and fire vehicle with their emergency lights flashing and sirens quiet.
A bell-toll tribute was scheduled to take place at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento on Monday morning and will be attended by CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley.
“Incredibly sad day for the family of Sgt Steve Licon, the CHP, & State of Calif. Sgt Licon was a great leader, valued member of the CHP family, & a dedicated public servant who sacrificed his life serving the people of Calif. Condolences to wife Ann, & daughters Marissa & Kelly,” Stanley said in a tweet.