“I felt complete shock and then an immediate sense of relief … it was something I had started to accept might never occur.”
Adele Ortego said the arrest of Hunter Johnson in the case of her husband Brady Ortego’s death came as a complete surprise.
“I was not given a heads up prior to the arrest,” Adele said. “I was called once he was in custody and in the process of being booked.”
Johnson, 22, was arrested and booked for vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, hit and run, reckless operation and obstruction of justice on March 12 in connection with Brady’s death. Johnson was held in lieu of a $800,000 bond and bonded out on March 15.
Johnson’s prior arrests include at least two instances in St. Charles Parish. On Aug. 27, 2016, Johnson was arrested for 14 counts of nonconsensual disclosure of private images. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne reported at the time that Johnson was arrested after allegedly sharing inappropriate photos on social media without consent.
Two days after that arrest, Johnson was arrested for aggravated criminal damage to property after Champagne said, via a press release at the time, that Johnson and two other subjects were arrested after allegedly causing damage to a vehicle and residence in Ama.
In this current case Johnson is accused of hitting four construction workers with his car the night of Jan. 14 on the Hale Boggs Bridge. Brady, 44, was sent over the side of the bridge and fell more than 150 feet into the Mississippi River.
He remains missing but is presumed dead.
Since the accident, Adele has been vocal to various news outlets about what she described as a lack of information and communication from Troop B of the Louisiana State Police, who was and still is handling the investigation.
“While I want to believe they were working towards doing the right thing, I truly believe an arrest would not have been made at the time it was had I not gone to the media,” Adele said. “I say this because I now know the timeline of events and there were some items that weren’t done until after my first interview with WWL that should have been done weeks prior.”
Before the arrest was made, a lawsuit was filed in an Orleans Parish civil court on behalf of Adele and her daughter Kyleigh Brown. The lawsuit identified Johnson as the alleged driver of the vehicle that killed Brady.
The lawsuit also named Johnson’s mother, Pebbles, as a defendant, claiming she picked up her son from near the scene of the accident and proceeded to hide him from law enforcement officers at a nearby hotel. The suit alleges the two hid in order to avoid potential criminal charges and civil litigation. Eyewitnesses said, following the accident, that someone had picked up the driver and brought him for treatment at St. Charles Parish Hospital.
The suit claims Johnson was intoxicated following an extended period of drinking at a Hooter’s restaurant. It also claims that Johnson reached out to Adele in the weeks following the accident, doing so via social media, and in doing so inflicted emotional distress upon the widow.
“It is a wrongful death suit as my husband was wrongfully killed,” Adele said. “Hunter’s actions were negligent the morning of the accident. His and his mother’s inability to take ownership or show remorse for their actions drove my decision. I was also under the advisement of my attorney.”
Traffic Solutions Louisiana LLC was also named in the lawsuit as a defendant, as well as several insurance companies.
“I want the world to never forget how genuine and soft hearted he was,” Adele said of Brady. “He believed his job was to make everyone smile and feel loved. He was truly one of a kind. You don’t come across men like him every day.”