A 26-year-old Costa Mesa man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for a collision in Huntington Beach.
Christopher Ellis Johnstone, who had been charged with driving under the influence of a drug causing injury, was arraigned Tuesday on an upgraded charge after the victim died June 4. He was ordered to return to court Monday for a preliminary hearing in the West Justice Center in Westminster.
Johnston still faces that charge with a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury as well as misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and destroying or concealing evidence.
Johnstone was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe on Memorial Day just before 6 p.m. when the SUV collided with a 1975 Honda motorcycle on Beach Boulevard north of Liberty Drive, according to Jennifer Carey, a spokeswoman for the Huntington Beach Police Department.
The motorcycle rider, 26-year-old Chanel Garcia of Newport Beach, was taken in critical condition to an area hospital, where she died later, Carey said.
Johnstone was driving behind the motorcycle southbound on Beach Boulevard when she slowed for a traffic signal and was rear-ended by the Tahoe, Carey said.