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Man pleads guilty to DUI manslaughter in 2016 Palm Springs crash

A driver who was under the influence when he caused a Palm Springs crash that killed a passenger in the other car pleaded guilty Thursday to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving charges.

Austin Ulshafer, 31, of Cathedral City, faces nearly a dozen years in state prison when he is sentenced next month for the Oct. 11, 2016, crash that killed 23-year-old James Brown of Joshua Tree.

Read: Passenger killed in suspected Palm Springs DUI crash identified

Ulshafer was behind the wheel of a 1994 GMC pickup truck that crashed into a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria about 2 a.m. at the intersection of Ramon Road and Gene Autry Trail.

Ulshafer was heading east on Ramon Road when his truck struck the right front side of the 2008 Ford Crown Victoria, causing major damage to both vehicles, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Radford.

Brown, the Ford’s passenger, was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center, where he died just after 11 a.m.

Ulshafer and the Ford’s driver, a 25-year-old Indio man, were taken to Desert Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.

Ulshafer was initially charged with second-degree murder, but that count was dismissed Thursday as part of a plea agreement. He remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 16.

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