Man held on DUI charges in connection with crash; biker suffers broken neck


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ST. CROIX - Police have arrested an Estate Glynn man accused of driving while intoxicated late Friday and causing a collision with a motorcycle before leaving the scene - and a seriously injured motorcyclist - behind without reporting the crash.

Luis Ortiz, 28, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after causing injuries; driving under the influence; leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it; negligent driving; and possession of ammunition, according to court documents.

Magistrate Judge Miguel Camacho on Monday morning found probable cause for the charges and advised Ortiz of his rights. Bail was set at $35,000, with a 10 percent provision and conditions set. Ortiz was bailed out on Monday afternoon.

Court documents indicate that the motorcyclist was rear-ended, and the force of the collision knocked him off his motorcycle, threw the helmet from his head, and broke the motorcycle into pieces.

An emergency room doctor at Luis Hospital told police later that night that the victim remained unconscious with multiple abrasions and broken bones in his neck. The doctor told police his injuries were so severe that he would need to be flown out of the territory for further medical treatment.

A probable cause affidavit filed in support of the charges by V.I. Police Officer Arthur Joseph notes that Joseph received a request to investigate the collision about 11:42 p.m. Friday from a police officer who had been driving west on Midland Road on his way home from work when he came upon a man laying on the shoulder of the westbound lane, bleeding from his body and head. The officer had called for an ambulance and traffic units.

Joseph said when he arrived at the scene, on Midland Road just down the hill west of the Estate Coble entrance, the victim appeared to be going in and out of consciousness, and an auxiliary officer was yelling at the man repeatedly to "stay with me," and not try to get up.

According to the affidavit, as Joseph was going to his vehicle to ask for more police assistance, a bystander told him there was a vehicle stopped further down the road that had front-end damage and looked like it was involved in a collision.

After more help arrived, Joseph drove west, further down the road, until he came upon a vehicle parked in the westbound lane near Holy Cross Episcopal Church, he wrote.

According to the affidavit, Joseph found that the windows were opened, no key was in the ignition, and a drivers license and voter registration card belonging to Ortiz, along with money, were on the floor of the drivers side of the vehicle. Joseph wrote that the driver side window was down in the door and the door could not be opened.

In addition, there was damage to the front bumper, hood, grill, radiator, and left side rear-view mirror, and the left headlight was missing, according to the affidavit. Where the vehicle was stopped, there was a rusty water-like substance staining the roadway, Joseph wrote.

While the vehicle was being processed, police found 14 rounds of ammunition under the driver's seat, according to the affidavit.

People driving by told police that a man and woman had been seen walking eastbound, and it looked "suspicious," according to the affidavit

Police found the man and woman and spoke to them, according to the affidavit.

The woman told police she was driving, while the man - Ortiz - said he was not driving, according to Joseph.

Joseph wrote that Ortiz had a strong smell of alcohol on his breath and his eyes were watery. The two were taken in for questioning.

According to the affidavit, the woman gave a video statement saying she drove the pickup truck to get her boyfriend, Ortiz, from the cock pit in Glynn and when she got home, Ortiz already was there and said he got a ride home from a family member.

The woman reported she fell asleep and when she woke up, Ortiz was not home, the affidavit states.

She told police that Ortiz came home a short time later, and told her he hit something but did not know what he hit, but that the truck "doesn't want to start."

Ortiz, she told police, asked her to call for a tow truck, and she asked him if he hit a goat or a deer, the affidavit states.

The woman reported she called a tow truck, then suggested they walk back to the truck, according to the affidavit.

The Toyota Tacoma involved in the collision belongs to the man who employs Ortiz, who told police he gave Ortiz the vehicle to use on Thursday, according to the affidavit. The registered owner told police that Ortiz normally uses the vehicle as part of his duties when picking up horses, among other things, Joseph wrote.

According to police, Ortiz declined to give a statement, although Joseph wrote that Ortiz voluntarily said he had four Elephant beers at the cock pit.

The affidavit states that Ortiz refused standard field sobriety tests and he refused to blow into an intoximeter.

The investigation into the crash indicates that both the Tacoma and the motorcycle were traveling west when the operator of the pickup truck struck the motorcycle with such force that the motorcyclist was knocked off the bike, his helmet thrown from his head, and the motorcycle "was completely broken into pieces and littering the shoulder of the westbound lane," the affidavit states.

At the scene, police found a left headlight that matched the one missing from the Tacoma, according to the affidavit.

Ortiz will be formally charged and enter a plea in the case when he is arraigned June 4.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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