UPDATED: Man Gets 11 Years in Prison For Hit-and-Run That Killed Ex-HS Athlete

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

INDIO (CNS) – A 43-year-old man who killed a 23-year-old former high school and college football player in a hit-and-run crash in Desert Hot Springs has pleaded guilty to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in state prison.

Jose Roberto Tafoya-Flores pleaded guilty Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio to one felony count each of DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run causing death or injury, as well as one misdemeanor count of being an unlicensed operator, according to court records.

Tafoya-Flores was arrested at the intersection of Two Bunch Palms Trail and Palm Drive at approximately 1:30 a.m. on April 11, 2021, about an hour after killing former Shadow Hills High football star Isaiah Ortega-Dage, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said Ortega-Dage of Indio 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 got out and walked to the driver’s side of the vehicle where he was struck by an oncoming pickup truck while standing in the right lane.

Ortega-Dage died at the scene 14 minutes after being struck, according to the Riverside County coroner’s office.

He played football for Western New Mexico University after graduating from Shadow Hills High School.

“The Knights football family has lost one of their own,” Shadow Hills football coach Alex Esquibe told the Desert Sun shortly after the death. “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 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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