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Man charged in suspected DUI crash that killed ex-Shadow Hills High School football player

Isaiah Ortega-Dage
Shadow Hills High School
Isaiah Ortega-Dage

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 today on DUI gross vehicular manslaughter charges.

A GoFundMe page to support Ortega-Dage's family. Click here to visit that page

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 an 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 to the Riverside County coroner's office.

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

Shadow Hills High School issued a release paying tribute to him:

"The Shadow Hills Knights football family has lost one of their own. Isaiah’s years at Shadow Hills were the years that the foundation of our football program was being laid. The Knights of those days played a big part in building the culture of Shadow Hills Athletics. Isaiah played a huge role in that culture and was an exemplary student-athlete. He was a Knight through and through and he will be missed. We mourn with his family during these trying times and we plan to honor his legacy as our football season moves forward." 

His former coach at Shadow Hills, Richie DeTamble, shared a post that read in part, "I’ve spent over a day trying to gather my words, and woke up today wishing the news wasn’t true. But our Knight track and football programs have been rocked with the passing of one of our legends. Isaiah Ortega-Dage, class of 2015, was electric on the football field and one of the most gifted track athletes I’ve ever coached or been around."

DeTamble shared that in addition to Ortega-Dage's remarkable athletic ability, he was a great dad who wanted to "give his beautiful daughter the best life possible. He was built to be a dad!"

A GoFundMe page to support Ortega-Dage's family. Click here to visit that page

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on this case

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Jesus Reyes


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