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Bus driver suspected of DUI in fatal crash released from custody

Updated November 22, 2023 - 7:11 pm

A Las Vegas bus driver suspected of DUI in a fatal crash with a bicyclist was ordered released from custody Wednesday after prosecutors did not file formal criminal charges against her.

Johnelle Johnson, 46, appeared before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure on Wednesday after the judge had given a prosecutor time to review Johnson’s “rushed blood results,” Bonaventure said Wednesday.

“I still have not received charges from the state,” Bonaventure added.

Prosecutor Eric Bauman said: “Based on those results, we will not be filing a criminal complaint today.”

Bonaventure ordered Johnson released from custody. She had been in custody since the fatal crash on Friday.

But Johnson’s release came with a warning from the judge.

“There are always conditions of release, especially with charges like this,” Bonaventure said. “These are extremely serious allegations. While this case is pending, you must stay out of trouble and you must appear in court.”

The judge added that a warrant could be issued for Johnson’s arrest if she did not comply with the requirements.

The fatal crash occurred on Friday afternoon at the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and South Nellis Boulevard. According to police reports, Johnson was driving a Regional Transportation Commission bus eastbound when she ran a red light and struck David Ortiz-Gonzalez, 33, who died of his injuries at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, police said.

According to a Metropolitan Police Department arrest report, the bus collided with Ortiz-Gonzalez and then ran over him, “dragging him under the bus.”

Metro officers observed that Johnson “needed support to maintain her balance” and that her “speech was slurred,” the report stated. Police at the scene applied for and received a search warrant to draw two vials of Johnson’s blood, the report stated, adding that Johnson “exhibited signs of impairment while she was operating an RTC bus.”

After reviewing video footage from the bus, Metro officers concluded that the traffic signal had turned red while the bus was several feet away from the intersection’s “stop line,” according to police.

But the report also stated that Ortiz-Gonzalez “failed to obey the ‘walk, don’t walk’ traffic control device and darted and entered the intersection unlawfully.”

The intersection where the collision occurred is “pedestrian-saturated, with people walking or riding bikes at all hours of the day,” according to the arrest report.

Bonaventure ordered Johnson back in court on Dec. 20.

Contact Peter S. Levitt at plevitt@reviewjournal.com.

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