A motorist who struck a pedestrian near the “Candy Cane Lane” area of Cathedral City four days before Christmas, then drove off, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony hit-and-run charge and was immediately sentenced to a two-year state prison term.
Arvinder Singh Cheema, 22, of Palm Springs admitted responsibility for the Dec. 21, 2017, hit-and-run that occurred in the 68200 block of Bella Vista Road, not far from the elaborately decorated homes on Minerva Road, known as “Candy Cane Lane” during the holiday season.
The victim — identified only as Melanie A. in court documents — was hospitalized in “grave” condition following the crash, but a great bodily injury sentence enhancement against Cheema was previously stricken at prosecutors’ request.
In addition to the hit-and-run count, Cheema was charged with two felony counts of dissuading witnesses, but those counts were dismissed at sentencing.
Cheema was arrested at his home about 8 p.m. Dec. 23, after police received “multiple tips from residents” that helped identify him as the driver of the yellow Camaro seen speeding away from the crash scene, Cathedral City police Cmdr. Julio Luna said.
According to police, Cheema told Cathedral City officers that he would flee to his home country of India as soon as he got out of jail, prompting a judge to increase his $50,000 bail at his arraignment and order that he turn in his passport if released from custody.