Thursday, March 08, 2018
So this guy crashes into my car at 7th and St. Louis- and naturally, it seems he has no insurance
It was September 11 when a man who was upset with my reporting came to my apartment and sent me to the Freeman emergency room with one punch.
This time, my face was spared (though whether or not that is a good thing, I will leave up to you), but my car was not.
I decided on the spur of the moment Wednesday afternoon to check in on Changing Hands Book Shoppe and Always Buying Books to see how my books were doing.
A line of cars was in the right lane running in front of the Discount Smokes. I drove into the turn lane to go left on 7th. Someone left an opening for a driver to pull out of the Discount Smokes parking lot. He did so without looking to see if someone was in the turn lane.
His vehicle did not suffer any damage at all.
I pulled into the parking lot at the car wash. Ortega kept going, but apparently went around the block and returned. He said he wanted to exchange information because he needed to get home to his kids.
I told him I would prefer to call the police and wait for them to arrive. He made it clear he had no interest in doing that and the reason became apparent when the "information" he provided me was not proof of insurance, but a State Farm card.
I turned over my insurance information and he said he had to go. I told him I was calling the police and asked him to wait.
"i can't wait," he said. "I have to get home to my children. That was why I was in a hurry."
He left without waiting for the police. I called the Joplin Police Department, but I was having a hard time hearing what the dispatcher was saying because of the noise. Normally, I can hear conversations when I am in my car, but with the glass gone from the back side passenger window, I had a hard time hearing over the rush hour traffic.
My call was also cut off toward the end, so I waited for the police to arrive. When I was still waiting 20 minutes later, I finally pulled out, my car making the most horrendous scraping sound, and drove back to my apartment complex so I could call my insurance company before it closed.
The company jumped right on it and called me this morning to tell me the news I had feared- the Joplin insurance agency whose card Ortega handed me had never heard of him.
Now does that mean without a doubt that he did not have insurance- no, but it certainly appears that way.
After I examined his record last night, I had no doubt about it.
A case.net search shows Ortega has had a number of traffic violations and has been involved in one lawsuit after he caused another accident on March 13, 2013.
According to the petition in Christina Higdon's lawsuit against Ortega, she was driving northbound on Illinois Avenue, when she reached 7th.
"Defendant Nicholas Ortega was operating a 2001 Hyundai Sonata westbound on 7th Street at a high rate of speed when he drove through a steady red light violently colliding with plaintiff's vehicle and causing her serious injuries."
Higdon suffered a wrist injury that required surgery and injuries to her foot, knee, head, neck, back and body, according to the petition.
The case was settled for an amount that is not included in Jasper County Circuit Court records.
Case.net also shows Ortega pleaded guilty to charges of speeding (more than 20 miles over the limit), failure to register motor vehicle and two times for seat belt violations.
Most of Ortega's problems have occurred within the Joplin city limits.
According to Joplin Municipal Court records, Ortega has pleaded guilty to the following charges:
-December 11, 2004- speeding 58 in a 35
-December 11, 2004- compliance with request for information by police officers
-December 16, 2011- Seat belt violation
-July 13, 2011, license plate violation
-July 13, 2011- no license on person
-March 18, 2013- failure to stop at steady red signal
-May 4, 2013- seat belt violation
-May 4, 2013- defective equipment
-August 19, 2013- failure to maintain financial responsibility
-August 19, 2013- no license on person
-June 30, 2015- seat belt violation
-August 30, 2015- defective equipment
-October 5, 2015- disturbing the peace
So when I heard from my insurance company that the company whose card Nicholas Anthony Ortega, 30, 1508 E. 5th Street, Joplin MO 64801 handed me did not have him as a client, it came as no surprise.
My insurance company, which appears certain to be handling this, would like to call Ortega if anyone could get his number to me.
I fully intend to fill out a report on the incident as soon as I have a car I can use to get to the police department. That is also in the works.
That being said, while I am angry, I am not sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I was not hurt in the accident, though I am sore from having to take my book inventory out of my car and carrying it up to my apartment. It could be a lot worse.
What I worry about is what is going to happen the next time this man gets into a hurry. The next person in his way may not be as lucky as I was.