HAHNVILLE, La. (WGNO) — A Reserve man has been sentenced to prison following a hit-and-run crash that killed a construction worker last year.
On Thursday, St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel T. Chaisson II announced that 23-year-old Hunter Johnson will face a split sentence of 23 years in prison and 12 years of supervised release.
The charges stemmed from the fatal crash on the Hale Boggs Bridge on I-310 that occurred on January 14, 2021.
Louisiana State Police report Johnson was traveling south on the bridge around 1 a.m. when detectives say his pickup truck drove into a work zone, striking a construction worker. Shortly after the crash, police say Johnson ran away from the crash on foot, leaving his Ford F-250 behind.
The victim, later identified as 44-year-old Brady Ortego of Baton Rouge, was thrown into the Mississippi River upon the crash’s impact. Despite an extensive search by the Coast Guard and nearby authorities, Ortego’s body was never recovered from the water.
Nearly two months following the crash, Johnson surrendered to police on March 12 and was booked into the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.
On February 9 of this year, Johnson pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and obstruction of justice as part of a plea deal. He received a total of 18 years of prison and 12 years of supervised release for the vehicular homicide charge, plus an additional 5 years of prison for the obstruction of justice charge.
Prior to Johnson’s sentencing, victim impact statements were heard from Ortego’s mother, wife, step-daughter, and sister who shared memories of the victim.
DA Chaisson commented on Johnson’s sentencing, saying:
“I would first like to express my appreciation to the fmaily of Brady Ortego for their patience and determination in seeing this case through to its just conclusion. This case presented investigatory challenges that required Trooper Lawrence Williams of the Louisiana State Police to ultilize many different technological tools prior to seeking a warrant for the arrest of Hunter Johnson.
“The sentenced imposed today is the clulmination of the exemplary efforts of Troooper Williams, who worked tirelessly to ensure that his investigation was complete so that the right man was apprehended and held accountable, and the meticulous prosecution of the case by Assistance District Attorneys, Mark F. Lopez and J. William Star.
“Nothing can bring Brady Ortego back, but I hope that this sentence can give his family to closure and justice that they deserve.”St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel T. Chaisson II