A man testified Wednesday that he saw a California Highway Patrol officer fly through the air after a car plowed into the officer on Interstate 15 in Lake Elsinore more than two years ago.
“It felt like something out of a movie,” Justin Mulkey said.
Mulkey was among the first few witnesses called by the prosecution in the trial of Michael Joseph Callahan, a convicted DUI offender accused of killing CHP Sgt. Steve Lawrence Licon, 53, of Perris in April 2019.
Callahan, 39, of Winchester, could face 15 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
Mulkey testified that he was on his way home when he witnessed the driver of a Toyota Corolla, later identified as Callahan, hit the patrolman and his motorcycle on the shoulder. The man said the Corolla struck the lawman without slowing down.
According to the CHP, the veteran motorcycle patrolman was working extra duty on April 6, 2019, because of heavy traffic associated with the “super bloom” of wildflowers in the valleys around Lake Elsinore, which draws large crowds and sometimes clogs roadways.
Licon had stopped the driver of a Chrysler sedan about a mile north of Nichols Road on southbound I-15 for speeding, prosecutors said.
He had no time to react when the defendant’s Toyota Corolla came barreling toward him, smashing into the victim and plowing into the motorcycle and Chrysler, according to the CHP. Licon was rushed to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died less than an hour later.
The occupants of the Chrysler escaped with minor injuries, as did Callahan, who was taken into custody without incident.
The CHP motorcycle was destroyed.
Callahan, who has a prior DUI conviction in another jurisdiction, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center.
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