A California Highway Patrol officer was killed and at least two other people were injured by a suspected drunken driver on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore on Saturday, forcing the closure of the southbound lanes of the freeway for nearly 11 hours.
The crash occurred about 4:30 p.m. north of Nichols Road, according to the CHP and the Riverside County Fire Department.
The motorcycle officer killed was identified by the CHP on its Facebook page as Sgt. Steve Licon, a 27-year veteran of the agency. The CHP said Licon was hit by an “errant driver” while conducting a traffic stop on the shoulder of the freeway. The driver was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.
“Our hearts are heavy after the immeasurable loss of a friend, father, husband, and hero,” the CHP said in a statement. “Rest easy, brother, we have the watch from here.”
Two other people injured in the crash were also taken to Inland Valley Regional Medical Center, said Tawny Cabral, a spokeswoman with the Riverside County Fire Department. No information was available about their condition.
Late Saturday, dozens of law enforcement officers from various agencies gathered at the hospital in Wildomar to escort the hearse that transported Licon’s body to the Riverside County coroner’s office in Perris.
“Today we mourn the loss of a husband and father of two who lost his life while protecting the state of California. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends and his many California Highway Patrol colleagues for their devastating loss,” Gov. Gavin Newsom and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said in a statement, adding Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff in honor of Licon.