A 46-year-old convicted felon who has a long criminal history and was wanted by the Department of Corrections is the man arrested for hitting a school bus full of children Thursday afternoon as he was trying to run from police.
Louis Ortiz is in the Denver Downtown jail facing charges of vehicular assault and vehicular eluding. He’s also listed as being a fugitive hold for the Department of Corrections.
9Wants to Know has learned he is wanted for absconding parole. He has been to the Department of Corrections on nine other cases.
A criminal background check on Ortiz revealed a lengthy criminal history starting at 18 with a weapons offense. Other charges on Ortiz’s rap sheet include dangerous drugs, forgery and vehicle theft.
The DOC tells 9Wants to Know that Ortiz was wanted for absconding parole in January of this year. He was fist paroled on July 18, 2016, and when he absconded, this means the parole officer no longer knows where the parolee is.
Most recently he was imprisoned for vehicular eluding with injury.
Previously, he was in prison for criminal trespass, escaping community corrections, cultivating of a controlled substance.
PHOTOS: School bus involved in crash in Denver
Denver Police say on Thursday afternoon, officers noticed Ortiz’s car, reported stolen out of Commerce City on February 14, making a left turn at the intersection of Washington Street and 45th Avenue. The plain-clothed officers followed this vehicle and called a marked patrol car to attempt to pull it over.
According to court records, the officer in the marked car started to follow Ortiz’ vehicle that then began to accelerate. Ortiz is accused of running the stop sign at North Tejon Street and collided with the school bus.
39 students children were on the bus at the time of the crash. They were coming from Denver Montessori Junior High school. Eighteen students were hurt and five were transported. As of Friday afternoon, all have been released and some have gone back to school.
"I was at the hospital last night with the students that were taken to the hospital," Katy Myers, Principal of Denver Montessori Junior/High School said. "They were all released last night in good spirits. They’re really excited to know all their friends are ok."
A DPD spokesperson told 9Wants to Know Ortiz was not pursued by an officer. The speed he was driving when he was allegedly trying to get away is part of the investigation and unavailable.
According to the probable cause statement, the officers recognized the vehicle as having eluded them on March 30. The report from that incident includes the same Jeep Grand Cherokee involved in the bus crash incident.
According to the report, detectives attempted to make contact with two Hispanic men and one woman at a gas station off 4500 N. Washington street. The three were inside a green Jeep Cherokee with a license plate belonging to a KIA.
The report says as detectives tried to contact the driver of the car, he jumped inside and the female passenger put it in drive. The car sped away.