Reserve man sentenced following death of bridge worker

Hunter Johnson, 23, and of Reserve, was sentenced to 30 years with the Louisiana Department of Corrections for the crime of vehicular homicide, stemming from an incident in March of 2021 in which highway worker Brady Ortego was struck and killed on I-310.  

The sentence is a split sentence with 18 years in custody and 12 years of supervision upon release. 

In addition, Johnson received a sentence of five years with the Louisiana Department of Corrections for the crime of obstruction of justice. The sentences, which are the result of a plea agreement between the State of Louisiana and the defendant, were ordered to run concurrently to one another. Johnson was remanded to the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections immediately following sentencing. He pled guilty to both charges on February 9. 

Johnson was arrested on March 12, 2021 following an investigation by the Louisiana State Police into the circumstances surrounding the death of Brady Ortego. Ortego was killed when he was struck in the early morning hours of January 14, 2021 by a vehicle driven by Johnson. Ortego was performing overnight work on 1-310 in St. Charles Parish at the time of his death. 

Prior to the sentencing, Judge Timothy S. Marcel heard victim impact statements from Ortego’s mother, wife, step-daughter and sister, who each shared their memories of the victim. 

“I would first like to express my appreciation to the family of Brady Ortego for their patience and determination in seeing this case through to its just conclusion,” said St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel T. Chaisson Il. “This case presented investigatory challenges that required Trooper Lawrence Williams of the Louisiana State Police to utilize many different technological tools prior to seeking a warrant for the arrest of Hunter Johnson.  

“The sentence imposed today is the culmination of the exemplary efforts of Trooper 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 Assistant District Attorneys, Mark F. Lopez and J. William Starr. Nothing can bring Brady Ortego back, but I hope that this sentence can give his family the closure and justice that they deserve.” 

Johnson was arrested and booked in March of 2021 with vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, hit and run, reckless operation and obstruction of justice. He was accused of hitting four construction workers with his truck the night of Jan. 14 on the Hale Boggs Bridge. Ortego fell from the bridge as result of the blow he absorbed.

Johnson’s mother and grandmother were each arrested in the weeks following his arrest on charges of obstruction of justice, for their alleged roles in helping Johnson elude capture for a time.

According to Louisiana State Police, Johnson was injured in the crash and abandoned his vehicle on foot, leaving key evidence at the scene.


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