The driver of a Mercedes-Benz SUV was drunk when he struck an Uber car early New Year’s Day, leaving four passengers critically injured in the Fairfax area, prosecutors alleged in announcing charges Thursday.
Michael Steward Forno, 37, of Los Angeles was charged with driving under the influence and multiple other counts. He entered a not guilty plea Wednesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Forno tried to flee the scene of the pre-dawn crash at Melrose Avenue and Vista Street but was stopped by witnesses, police said at the time of the investigation.
While driving his driving his 2010 Mercedes GL450, Forno is accused of rear-ending another vehicle, fleeing, then crashing – less than a mile away – into a 2007 Toyota Prius being driven by an Uber driver.
Video from the scene showed the Mercedes SUV had also crashed into the front of a sporting apparel store, which was left damaged. The SUV was left upside down on the sidewalk, with the Prius totaled down the street.
Both drivers were hospitalized after the crash, and the Uber driver’s four passengers had critical injuries, police said on Monday. The victims’ status Thursday wasn’t immediately clear.
Forno was charged with one count each of: driving under the influence of alcohol; causing bodily injury to another person while having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more; hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person; and hit-and-run driving resulting in property damage.
He faced up to 14 years, 2 months in state prison if convicted as charged. His bail was set at $330,000, and he is due back in court in downtown L.A. for a preliminary hearing Jan. 17.