Drunk driver charged with murder in death of California Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Licon

A Riverside County man was charged with murder on Wednesday in the death of a California Highway Patrol Sergeant who was struck by a vehicle on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore on Saturday, authorities said.

Michael Joseph Callahan, 36, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon. Callahan pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Wednesday afternoon. His next court appearance is May 16.

The fatal collision happened Saturday afternoon after Sgt. Licon had stopped a 2017 Chrysler 300 for a traffic violation. The Chrysler and Sgt. Licon's CHP motorcycle were stopped on the freeway's right shoulder. Authorities said Callahan's car was traveling along the right shoulder, not in the designated freeway lanes when Sgt. Licon was struck.


Sgt. Licon was transported by medical helicopter to Inland Valley Medical Center in nearby
Wildomar where he died from his injuries. He was a 27-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol.

"During the subsequent investigation, it was determined that the defendant was driving under the
influence of alcohol when he struck Sgt. Licon," the DA's Office wrote in a press release Wednesday. "The DA's Office will not be releasing any details as to the alleged level of intoxication at this time."

The DA's Office said that Callahan is being charged with murder based, in part, on a 2004 misdemeanor DUI conviction he received in Orange County. In that case, he was sentenced to three years of summary probation. As a condition of probation, Callahan was required to attend Mothers Against Drunk Driving classes, during which he was educated about the dangers of drinking and driving, authorities said.