Felon Accused in Indio Hit-and-Run Crash That Injured Boy Pleads Not Guilty

Felon Accused in Indio Hit-and-Run Crash That Injured Boy Pleads Not Guilty

Ceci Partridge & City News Service

A felon accused in a hit-and-run crash that injured an Indio woman and her 5-year-old son pleaded not guilty Thursday to one felony count of hit-and-run involving injury or death.

Jesus Mario Noriega, 31, of Indio, is accused in the Feb. 4 crash reported in the area of Indio Boulevard and Fred Waring Drive in Indio.

He was arraigned at the Banning Justice Center before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Alfonso Fernandez, who set the defendant’s bail at $50,000 and scheduled a felony settlement conference for Feb. 24 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

Noriega remains behind bars at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

The injury crash was reported about 4:30 p.m. last Thursday. Police reported the mother and child had to be removed from her crumpled Toyota Camry after it was struck by a Toyota Highlander that was gone when rescue crews arrived, according to Indio Police Department spokeswoman Ben Guitron.

The boy was airlifted to a hospital, and was in stable condition as of Wednesday, Guitron said.

The child’s mother was also transported to a hospital with injuries of undisclosed severity and has since been released, Guitron said.

According to defense attorney Gregory Johnson, the police report says the boy suffered a punctured lung and spinal damage.

Authorities identified Noriega as the alleged hit-and-run driver based on “investigative leads and help from the public,” Guitron said.

He was charged in the crime while in custody on unrelated criminal allegations of possessing a controlled substance and violating a court order, jail records show.

Noriega has prior felony convictions in Riverside County, including grand theft and vehicle theft.

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