Reserve woman arrested in connection to I-310 hit and run
Published 10:45 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Killona – The investigation into the crash that claimed the life of 44-year-old Brady Ortego has continued to develop since the fatal incident on January 14, 2021. Through the investigation, Troopers have been able to determine that 22-year-old Hunter Mason Johnson was driving the vehicle that caused the crash and his 73-year-old grandmother, Marie Sally Dufrene, picked up Johnson after the crash and brought him to her residence. In a new development, Troopers obtained additional evidence which revealed that Johnson’s 51-year-old mother, Pebbles Johnson, transported Hunter Mason Johnson from his grandmother’s residence to a hotel in Houma and assisted him in eluding capture. Given the additional findings, Troopers obtained an arrest warrant for Pebbles Johnson through the 29th Judicial District court charging her with Obstruction of Justice. On the evening of August 17, 2021, Pebbles Johnson was booked into the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in St. Charles Parish for the active warrant.
July 5, 2021 Paradis – Troopers have continued to thoroughly investigate the crash that claimed the life of 44-year-old Brady Ortego. As part of the on-going investigation, Troopers were able to determine that Hunter Johnson, the driver of the vehicle that struck Ortego, contacted his grandmother, 73-year-old Marie Sally Dufrene, after the crash occurred. Troopers obtained evidence which revealed that Dufrene was responsible for picking up Johnson after the fatal crash and prevented investigators from making an arrest at that time. Given the findings, Troopers obtained an arrest warrant for Dufrene through the 29th Judicial District Court charging her with Obstruction of Justice. This morning at approximately 7:00 am, Dufrene was arrested at her residence and booked into the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in St. Charles Parish.
March 12, 2021 Destrehan – On January 14, 2021 at 1:00 am, Troopers with Louisiana State Police Troop B began investigating a fatal hit and run crash on I-310 southbound on the Hale Boggs Bridge in St. Charles Parish. The crash claimed the life of 44-year-old Brady Ortego of Baton Rouge and has resulted in the arrest of 22-year-old Hunter Mason Johnson of Reserve.
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 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.
Immediately after the crash, Troopers began the 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 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. Troopers obtained an arrest warrant for Johnson through the 29th Judicial District Court charging him with Vehicular Homicide / Driving under the Influence, Hit and Run Driving involving a Fatality, Reckless Operation and Obstruction of Justice. This morning at approximately 9:00 am, Hunter Johnson surrendered himself to Troopers at which time he was placed under arrest on the above charges and booked into the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.