Woman identified as victim in Morse Road crash

Columbus police on Monday identified the woman who was killed last Wednesday in a hit-and-run accident on the northeast side involving the personal vehicle of a former city police officer.

Naimo Mahdi Abdirahman, 30, was the pedestrian who was struck and killed early last Wednesday morning in Morse Road and Walford Street, police said on Monday.

Hours after the crash, Columbus Police Officer Demetris Ortega was placed on “relieved of duty” status — essentially a paid suspension — by Chief Elaine Bryant while the crash made the news. thoroughly investigated, The Dispatch previously reported.

Ortega, who has been with the Columbus Police Division since 2002, is the registered owner of the 2022 Kia Sorento involved in the crash, sources previously reported The Dispatch. However, Ortega was off duty and was a passenger in the vehicle and not driving at the time of the accident, a source told the newspaper.

Ortega has not been charged with any crime related to the crash. No accident report had been filed by the police on Monday evening.

But according to a press release on Monday, police responded at around 2:40 a.m. Wednesday to a report that Abdirahman was trying to cross Morse Road when she was hit by an eastbound vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle stopped briefly and a passenger got out to check on Abdirahman’s condition. The man “appeared upset” and allegedly told witnesses to call the police, the statement said.

The driver continued eastbound on Morse after the man exited, then turned onto Malin Street and returned westbound on a service road that passes businesses on the south side of the road, parallel to Morse Eastbound road. She picked up the male passenger and the couple then fled, police said.

Abdirahman, was pronounced dead at the scene by medics at 2:48 a.m., police said.

sergeant. Columbus Police Division spokesman James Fuqua said Monday that no suspects have been identified.

He said his Monday press release was based on preliminary eyewitness reports, but was “poorly written” and led some people to incorrectly assume that police had identified suspects.

“That doesn’t mean (Ortega) wasn’t involved. He could be, we just don’t know,” Fuqua said.

In response to a question about the timeline of the accident investigation, Fuqua replied, “We treat this the same as any hit-skip. They can take a while to wait for things to come back .”

The Dispatch previously reported that attorney Mark Collins is representing Ortega in the case. Collins made no further comment on Monday, reaffirming that his client would cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

In August 2015, Columbus police cited Ortega for driving an impaired vehicle (OVI), registering a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.143, according to the incident ticket. In Ohio, 0.08 is the legal blood alcohol limit. Ortega was off duty at the time, according to police records.

According to the 2015 post, Ortega crashed the vehicle around 4 a.m. on Karl Road near Dublin Granville Road, but was not injured.

Ortega pleaded guilty in 2016 at OVI and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, although Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Eileen Paley waived 177 days and he received three days credit. for his sentence for a driver intervention program, according to sentencing documents. . Ortega also received a $375 fine and a six-month license suspension.

Fuqua said he had no details on whether Ortega was allowed to drive a police vehicle while under a suspended license, but the sentencing documents did not appear to include privileges for work-related conduct.

Abdirahman’s death is the 23rd traffic-related fatality in Columbus this year, police said in the statement. The woman’s family is planning a press conference for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at a local attorney’s office. The dispatch will be there and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Cole Behrens is a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, covering public safety and breaking news. You can reach him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @Colebehr_report

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