‘There is no justice’: Family of man killed in 2017 wrong-way crash says delayed trial opens old wounds

Paul Donaldson is charged with intoxication manslaughter, faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty

SAN ANTONIO – The evidence is tough to watch, but the family of a man killed in a 2017 wrong-way crash has waited over half a decade for a jury to see it.

Armando Ortiz, 28, was killed in January 2017 while driving on I-35 near Walzem, according to San Antonio police.

Paul Donaldson is accused of being intoxicated and driving the wrong way on Interstate 35 when he wrecked into Ortiz. He was charged with intoxication manslaughter in April 2017, nearly four months after the crash.

After several delays, a reindictment and a change of courts — Donaldson is on trial.

Earlier this summer, KSAT Investigates spoke with the Ortiz family about their frustrations.

“It’s still kind of disappointing that it took this long,” said Armando Ortiz’s brother, Ricky Ortiz.

In court on Tuesday, Donaldson’s defense attorneys told jurors, “Not every tragedy is a crime.”

“He killed my brother,” said Ricky Ortiz. “[Donaldson] was driving the wrong way. Whether he was intoxicated or not, he drove the wrong way for several miles.”

Jurors heard from several people who called 911 after they said Donaldson drove past them the wrong way.

“It was scary,” said one witness. “I didn’t want to die. I know if that car would have hit me, I would have died.”

The Ortiz family hopes Donaldson is held accountable for what happened to Armando Ortiz.

Despite what the jury decides, the Ortiz family said it won’t change things for them.

“There is no justice,” said Naomi Ortiz, Armando Ortiz’s sister. “There’s truly no justice in our situation unless you’re going to resurrect my brother.”

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but Donaldson also faces a felony enhancement for previously killing someone in Tarrant County.

About the Authors:

Daniela Ibarra joined the KSAT News team in July 2023. This isn’t her first time in the KSAT newsroom– the San Antonio native spent the summer of 2017 as an intern. Daniela is a proud Mean Green alum, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas.