A former Los Angeles police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to drunk driving and causing an injury in connection with a February 1999 off-duty crash that left a 19-year-old motorist severely burned.
Ten-year veteran James Reyes, 36, resigned from the force following the Sun Valley accident in which Samuel Yamada of Valencia suffered third-degree burns on more than 40% of his body.
Another off-duty officer, who reportedly witnessed the collision on Feb. 25, 1999, told investigators the lights were off on Yamada's car, which was disabled on the Golden State Freeway when Reyes' car hit it. Yamada's car burst into flames with him inside.
As part of a plea agreement, the district attorney dropped a second felony drunk-driving charge. Reyes, who is scheduled for sentencing May 10 in San Fernando Superior Court, could face a year in County Jail.
"The investigation found Mr. Reyes was at fault for the collision," said Sgt. Rhett Smith, a California Highway Patrol spokesman.
Both men had exceeded the .08 legal limit for blood-alcohol level while driving, Smith said. Reyes' was .09 three hours after the collision, and Yamada's was between .12 and .18.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to pursue charges against Yamada, who was hospitalized for several months after the accident.