Hunter Johnson, 22, was arrested and booked this morning for vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, hit and run, reckless operation and obstruction of justice in connection with the death of Brady Ortego.
Johnson is accused of hitting four construction workers with his car the night of Jan. 14 on the Hale Boggs Bridge. Ortego, 44, was sent over the side of the bridge and into the Mississippi River. He remains missing but is presumed dead.
According to Louisiana State Police, Johnson was injured in the crash and abandoned his vehicle on foot, leaving key evidence at the scene.
Johnson was named publicly in a lawsuit filed by Ortego’s family last week.
In a statement released this morning, Louisiana State Police Troop B said the initial investigation by troopers revealed Johnson was traveling south on I-310 onto the Hale Boggs Bridge in a 2014 Ford F150 pickup towards an active work zone with workers present.
“For reasons which are still under investigation, Johnson traveled off the road to the right onto the shoulder where he struck multiple vehicles and a construction worker,” the statement reads. “The worker now identified as 44-year-old Brady Ortego, was thrown from the bridge into the Mississippi River. Ortego’s remains have yet to be discovered despite search and rescue efforts by the Coast Guard as well as local and state officials. On the night of the crash, Johnson fled the scene on foot leaving his vehicle on the shoulder of the I-310.”
State police said they immediately began a detailed investigative process to substantiate citizen reports that Johnson was in fact the driver of the 2014 Ford F-150.
“Investigating Troopers, along with the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations, Louisiana State Police Crime Lab, and the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s office have worked countless hours collecting, analyzing, and reviewing digital forensics, video footage, chemical analysis, witness statements and physical evidence left at the scene of the crash,” the statement said. “The extensive and thorough investigation has led to substantial evidence identifying Hunter Mason Johnson as the driver of the 2014 Ford F-150 on the night of the crash.”
Johnson surrendered himself to troopers this morning, at which time he was placed under arrest on the above charges and booked into the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.
Troopers ask that anyone with additional information concerning this case call Louisiana State Police Troop B at 504-471-2775. This crash remains under investigation and additional inquiries should be directed to the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s office.