A man who allegedly triggered a multi-car crash the day after Christmas in Indio, which resulted in the death of a 14-year-old boy, pleaded not guilty today to murder and drunken driving charges.
Juan Gomez, 48, was arraigned this afternoon on the murder charge and 10 counts of drunken driving causing injury stemming from the Dec. 26 crash that injured 14 people, eight of whom were hospitalized.
Four of those eight, including 14-year-old Marco Avila of Coachella, were transported in critical condition. The teen died of his injuries on Jan. 3 at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, leading to Gomez’s arrest three days later on suspicion of murder, according to Indio police.
Court records show Gomez has a 2005 conviction out of Indio for drunken driving, for which he was given three years probation.
Gomez was allegedly speeding along Monroe Street in a Ford Explorer that crashed into several vehicles at Avenue 48 around 6:45 p.m., said Indio police Sgt. Daniel Marshall.
According to the sergeant, Gomez’s SUV sideswiped a Toyota Camry, then crashed into a Nissan SUV stopped at the intersection, pushing the Nissan into a stopped Honda SUV. The teenager was a passenger in the Nissan.
Gomez is due back in court March 10 for a felony settlement conference.