District attorney charges driver who killed man crossing Stearns Street in wheelchair with three felonies

The driver of a vehicle that killed a man crossing Stearns Street in a wheelchair earlier this month has been charged with three felonies including gross vehicular manslaughter, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office announced Thursday.

Joseph Maez, the 26-year-old driver who was arrested after the June 12 accident that killed 59-year-old Mitchel Morales, was also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury and driving with a blood-alcohol content over .08 and causing injury.

Police said that Maez was driving westbound on Stearns in a 2016 Honda Civic when he allegedly struck Morales who was crossing the street in an unmarked crosswalk.

Maez is expected to be arraigned at the George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach July 2.

“Driving under the influence is a potentially deadly decision with severe consequences,” LA District Attorney George Gascon said in the announcement.

Morales was killed while crossing Stearns Street at Radnor Avenue in the Los Altos Neighborhood of Long Beach. The crash was reported to the Long Beach Police Department around 11:20 p.m. and despite life saving measures Morales was pronounced dead at the scene.

His family remembered him as a “jack of all trades” who enjoyed helping people fix things around their homes and who loved to play guitar and sing.

The LBPD is still investigating the incident, according to the district attorney’s release.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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