Man Faces Manslaughter Charges For Death of Former HS Football Player

City News Service

(CNS) – A 41-year-old man arrested over the weekend on suspicion of killing a 23-year-old former high school football player in a hit-and- run crash in Desert Hot Springs was due in court Wednesday on DUI gross vehicular manslaughter charges.

Jose Roberto Tafoya-Flores was arrested at the intersection of Two Bunch Palms Trail and Palm Drive at approximately 1:30 a.m. Saturday, about an hour after allegedly killing Isaiah Ortega-Dage, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Tafoya-Flores was scheduled to appear at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on Wednesday for arraignment on felony charges of DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI alcohol causing bodily injury, DUI alcohol .08 percent or more causing bodily injury, hit-and-run causing death or injury, and a misdemeanor charge of being a unlicensed vehicle operator.

He also faces sentence-enhancing allegations of fleeing the scene and causing great bodily injury.

Tafoya-Flores was being held at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio on $75,000 bail.

According to the CHP, Ortega-Dage was riding in a vehicle with a female driver when they stopped between the right lane and right shoulder of Palm Drive north of Varner Road. He then got out and walked to the driver’s side of the vehicle and was struck by an oncoming pickup while standing in the right lane.

Ortega-Dage, a resident of Indio, died at the scene 14 minutes after being struck by the pickup, according the Riverside County coroner’s office.

After graduating from Shadow Hills High School, Ortega-Dage played for Western New Mexico University.

“The Knights football family has lost one of their own,” Shadow Hills football coach Alex Esquibe told the Desert Sun about Ortega-Dage. “Isaiah’s years at Shadow Hills were the years the foundation of our football program was being laid — the Knights of those days played a big part in making Shadow Hills known. Isaiah was a Knight through and through.”

Esquibe, who was an assistant coach when Ortega-Dage was on the team, told the newspaper: “He will be missed. We mourn with his family during these trying times and we plan to honor his legacy as our season moves forward.”

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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