Man accused of crashing stolen car into school bus while eluding police has long criminal history

Posted at 2:06 PM, Apr 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 16:30:03-04

DENVER – The man accused of injuring several students Thursday when he crashed into a school bus while running from police in a stolen car sits in jail Friday facing new charges, but he’s no stranger to the slammer.

Louis R. Ortiz, 46, faces reckless vehicular assault and vehicular eluding resulting in injury charges for Thursday’s incident, which sent five people to the hospital. He is being held at the Denver Jail without bond on the new charges, as well as on two holds from other jurisdictions.

A probable cause document for Ortiz’s arrest says that a Denver officer noticed the stolen Jeep Ortiz was driving from a previous pursuit that happened March 30.

The officer started to follow Ortiz and the Jeep Thursday, when Ortiz allegedly blew through a stop sign at 39th Avenue and Tejon St. and collided with the bus, which was transporting students home from the Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School.

Thirty-nine students were aboard the bus when the crash happened, and police said Thursday that 18 of them had injuries of some sort. The five people hospitalized had been released from the hospital by Friday afternoon.

Police said two children were in the car with Ortiz at the time, and the probable cause statement says one of them, a child aged either 5 or 6, was seriously injured.

Colorado court records show Ortiz has an extremely long criminal history in Colorado. He has been arrested 28 times in Colorado since 1989 and convicted several times:

  • 1991: Pleaded guilty to trespassing
  • 1998: Guilty of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute
  • 2000: Guilty of possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance (dangerous drugs)
  • 2003: Guilty of attempting to escape from custody on a felony conviction
  • 2006: Guilty of attempting to escape from custody on a felony conviction
  • 2013: Guilty of vehicular eluding with injury, criminal property damage

"I was scared, and then I just ran. We saw smoke, so everyone got out as quickly as they could," said Speiro Jojola, a student who was seated in the back of the bus.  

He had a few bumps and bruises, but was not seriously hurt in the crash.

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