Driver who ran red light sentenced in deadly Las Vegas crash

Updated February 12, 2018 - 12:05 pm

They wore all black outside the Regional Justice Center, the widow and her granddaughter, squeezing each other’s hands tightly. Nearly two years had passed since a car accident killed Leslie Ortega’s husband, Quirino “Kenny” Ortega, but she was still despondent.

“Give us the strength to accept whatever the decision is and help us to go on and do things for his name,” she prayed aloud, her lips quivering with her voice. “So that Kenny can get the justice he deserves.”

They were preparing for the sentencing of Moroni Calvo, 41, who had pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter for accelerating through a red light the morning of April 25, 2016, at the intersection of Nellis Boulevard and Washington Avenue.

On Wednesday, Calvo was sentenced to the maximum penalty: six months of confinement at the Clark County Detention Center.

Leslie Ortega, 65, said that no matter how Calvo was punished, her “Nino” was gone forever.

“Six months in jail is all that can be given,” she said. “But my sentence is forever, missing his sweet smile and the sound of his laughter.”

‘Cases like this are never easy’

The case was emotional for Quirino Ortega’s family, and for several defendants in court for DUI cases unrelated to Calvo’s. Many of the defendants, clad in blue jumpsuits, wept openly after hearing Leslie Ortega and her granddaughter Faith Hubbard testify.

Circuit Judge Suzan Baucum wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke.

“Cases like this are never easy, because how do you deal with the loss of a life? It’s a loss of a life that the family has to face, the community faces. It’s a loss that we all face together,” she said.

Calvo’s defense attorney, Donn Prokopius, asked for traffic school, a suspended sentence and a fine. He said Calvo was repentant.

“He’s 100 percent taking responsibility for running a red light and causing a series of these very unfortunate events. My client’s living with this every day,” Prokopius said. “This isn’t something he’s thumbing his nose at.”

“The last thing that happened to him, he was put in an ambulance and taken to the hospital. The paramedic opened the door and said, ‘Just so you know, you killed somebody.’”

Before the sentencing, Calvo turned toward Leslie Ortega.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for you guys’ family. It was truly an accident,” he said. “I had two surgeries as well. I want to send my condolences.”

Trapped in nightmare

Leslie Ortega’s granddaughter Faith Hubbard, now 19, recounted the accident.

How she’d suffered nine broken ribs, two fractured pelvises, a popped lung, a ruined spleen that needed removal. She had three staples in her head and a trail of them along her stomach. Shattered glass is lodged in her cheek.

It still hurts when she eats, she said, tears rolling down her cheek. The pain is sometimes so crushing that she clutches pillows to her stomach.

“Your honor,” she said, “after this trial is over, Mr. Moroni gets to move on with his life, but I am trapped in the nightmare he started on April 25, 2016. Had I died, it would have been a misdemeanor.”

Leslie Ortega hoped her husband’s story would save a life. The teen with purple hair and purple contacts walked back to the gallery, where her grandma hugged her, holding her close to the silver necklace she wore bearing the words “Half of my heart is in Heaven.”

“I’m proud of you,” she gasped through her cries.

A head of thick, curly black hair. That’s what Leslie Ortega was able to identify of her partner of 34 years. That day, everything but his face and head was covered in sheets.

A lover of the Las Vegas 51s baseball team, the man with the handlebar mustache and bright, sweet smile raised her son as his own. Her husband would have been 62 in October.

“It’s only two years, and I can get full retirement,” he had told his wife.

The grandpa of three loved dressing up. He attended renaissance fairs. In the living room, the couple often danced together. He worked two jobs to make ends meet, at the Flamingo and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Not far from the home they shared in the Winterwood Village mobile home park is a blond angel painted with a blue dress, playing a white-and-gold harp. The angel, which Leslie Ortega painted for her Nino, sits in a community garden at the mobile home park.

She remembers kissing Hubbard goodbye that fateful morning, but she didn’t say goodbye to him. She figured he’d be back soon.

Quirino Ortega had just finished his graveyard shift at the Flamingo and was driving Hubbard to College of Southern Nevada for her classes. He stopped at a 7-Eleven to buy her a Dr. Pepper.

And just after 10:40 a.m., Calvo, in his red 1991 Dodge Dakota pickup truck, ran the red light, crashing into Quirino Ortega’s purple 1997 Ford Escort, setting off a chain reaction.

A 2016 Freightliner semi-trailer lost its box trailer and pushed the Ford through the traffic signal and into the west side of Buck’s Tavern, a nearby bar.

Metal crunched on metal, glass splintered and shattered. Quirino Ortega died instantly.

Hubbard’s body was found on top of his.

He had kept a long-ago promise: He never let her go.

Contact Briana Erickson at or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
16-year-old shot in North Las Vegas
A 16-year-old was hospitalized but was expected to survive after a shooting in North Las Vegas, near Centennial Parkway and Fifth Street, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. North Las Vegas police spokesman Aaron Patty gives an update. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
3-year-old boy shot in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Police Officer Aaron Patty talks about an accidental shooting that left a 3-year-old boy “fighting for his life” on Nov. 10, 2018.
Senior Citizen Carjacking Attack -- 3 Suspects Sought
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives are seeking the public's assistance in identifying the three attackers who carjacked and beat a 78-year-old man near Fremont and east Charleston on Tuesday. (LVMPD)
Henderson Police Department Chief Latesha Watson Talks Change
11-year-old girl shot, killed in North Las Vegas
An 11-year-old girl is dead after she was struck by gunfire Thursday night during a shooting in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas police on deadly shooting
North Las Vegas police spokesman Eric Leavitt briefs the media about a shooting that left an 11-year-old girl dead on Nov. 1, 2018. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stephan Bonnar DUI Arrest
Stephan Bonnar arrested for DUI in Nevada.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like