SAPD: Driver in fatal racing-related crash on South Side didn’t have license, had fake plates

Affidavit states suspect was driving 25 miles above speed limit before wreck

The driver of a modified GMC pickup who was allegedly racing before crashing the vehicle, killing his passenger, did not have a driver’s license and used fake Texas license plates, according to San Antonio police.
The driver of a modified GMC pickup who was allegedly racing before crashing the vehicle, killing his passenger, did not have a driver’s license and used fake Texas license plates, according to San Antonio police.

SAN ANTONIO – The driver of a modified GMC pickup who was allegedly racing before crashing the vehicle, killing his passenger, did not have a driver’s license and used fake Texas license plates, according to San Antonio police.

Booking records show Justin Matthew Ortiz, 18, has been charged with manslaughter following the crash that happened Feb. 8 in the 2400 block of Commerical Avenue, just south of Southwest Military Drive.

Police said Ortiz was driving a 1987 black GMC Sierra at a high rate of speed on the northbound lanes of Commercial when he hit a wet patch on the road, lost control and slid into oncoming traffic.

A 2009 GMC Sierra that was traveling southbound on Commercial T-boned the older-model truck on the passenger’s side.

Ortiz’s passenger, 23-year-old John Gavin Mendoza died at the scene. The drivers of the two trucks were sent to the hospital.

Video surveillance showed Ortiz’s GMC truck apparently racing with a red sedan before the crash, police initially said.

The affidavit states he revved the engine just as he crossed the wet patch.

Ortiz was driving about 25 miles above the speed limit of 35 miles per hour during rush hour, his arrest affidavit states.

Investigators said that he was driving without a valid driver’s license, and his truck had not been inspected.

Ortiz admitted that he built the truck “to his preferred performance specifications and had fictitious license plates,” according to the affidavit.

The inspector could have rendered the truck “unsafe for travel at certain speeds or altogether,” the affidavit states.

Booking records show Ortiz was arrested on Tuesday. His bond was set at $65,000.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.