Driver Who Killed CHP Officer Gets 6 Months in Jail


A day laborer was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail for killing a California Highway Patrol officer in an early-morning accident on a deserted stretch of Irvine Boulevard in Santa Ana.

Javier Uribe Chaparro, 25, of Trabuco Canyon had been drinking alcohol but was not legally impaired April 23 when he apparently nodded off at the wheel of his vehicle and swerved across the center line. Sgt. John L. Steel, 47, of Lake Forest was in uniform and riding his CHP motorcycle to work about 4:20 a.m. when the crash occurred.

Chaparro pleaded guilty July 2 to misdemeanor charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license or insurance. He faced a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Orange County Municipal Judge Christopher W. Strople also revoked Chaparro’s driving privileges for one year and ordered him to pay the Steel family an estimated $1,800 to cover the officer’s funeral expenses.


Chaparro also faces possible deportation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has placed a “hold” on him, meaning he can only be released into federal custody, officials said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. M. Marc Kelly and Deputy Public Defender Marion Holland Wheeler Jr. both said that the case was a difficult one because a law enforcement officer had been killed but that Chaparro is extremely remorseful and that there was ample evidence it was an accident.

Chaparro stayed at the scene of the crash to wait for help, directed traffic away from the downed officer and told police when they arrived that he was the driver responsible, Wheeler said.