INDIO, Calif.- - An alleged drunken driver accused of causing a head-on crash in Desert Hot Springs that killed one person and seriously injured several others pleaded not guilty today to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and other charges today.
and left five others hospitalized on Feb. 5, 2017. Li died of his injuries five days after the crash at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
Prosecutors charged Rojas late last year with DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and several counts of DUI causing injury. He was arrested Friday at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon and booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to county jail records.
The crash occurred just after 2:30 p.m. on North Indian Canyon Drive, just north of 19th Avenue. Rojas was headed south on Indian Canyon when his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck drifted into the northbound lanes, directly into the path of a Toyota Camry driven by Haitao Yuan, in which Li was a passenger, according to court documents.
The crash vaulted Rojas' truck over that vehicle and onto another vehicle behind Yuan's car, ripping off that car's roof and rear hatch, according to an arrest warrant declaration. Rojas' truck rolled over twice before coming to a stop. Li, Yuan, and three other passengers in the Toyota were hospitalized, along with the driver of the third car.
Rojas later admitted having two beers about an hour prior to the crash, according to the declaration. A blood sample indicated that he had a 0.11 blood-alcohol content -- above the legal limit of 0.08 -- at the time of the crash, the declaration alleges.
Li's family, as well as other crash victims, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Rojas, the cities of Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs, and Riverside County.
Rojas is due back in court Thursday for a felony settlement conference.
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