Three people were hurt today, one seriously, in a Cathedral City crash triggered when a suspected drunken driver rear-ended a street sweeper.
Julio Enrique Ramirez, 21, of Cathedral City was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence after the wreck on Cathedral Canyon Drive, just south of Dinah Shore Drive.
According to Cathedral City police, Ramirez was headed north on Cathedral Canyon in a blue Cadillac CTS that crashed into the back of a street sweeper going in the same direction shortly before 2 a.m.
Sgt. Carl Wolford said the suspect’s vehicle was traveling at a “high rate of speed” and when it slammed into the sweeper. The driver of the municipal vehicle lost control of the sweeper, which crashed into a palm tree and overturned, and both vehicles caught fire.
Ramirez got out of the Cadillac, but firefighters had to extricate his front-seat passenger, 20-year-old Cesar Melendrez-Sanchez, after dousing the flames.
Melendrez-Sanchez was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where he was listed in critical condition, Wolford said.
The sweeper operator, 42-year-old Arnulfo Orea of Cathedral City, suffered moderate injuries in the crash but escaped being burned.
Ramirez was treated at Desert Regional for moderate injuries and was taken into custody immediately afterward and booked into the Indio Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.