Charges against driver accused of causing fatal Orange County crash upgraded to vehicular homicide

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The charges against a 22-year-old accused of a hit-and-run crash that took the life of a motorcyclist in Orange County have been upgraded to vehicular homicide.

Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray first investigated the case in the fall of 2020, after family members of Stephanie Ortiz called for harsher punishment against the driver accused of leaving her for dead.

READ: Family of woman killed in Orange County hit-and-run crash calls for driver’s charges to be upgraded

Troopers had evidence that allowed prosecutors to add a charge of vehicular homicide, but it was not possible to add a charge of DUI manslaughter, despite witnesses claiming the woman had been drinking before the crash. That’s because troopers said it’s nearly impossible to prove someone was drunk at the time of impact when a driver leaves the scene of a crash.

It’s been almost five months since Stephanie Oritz was left for dead at the intersection of Percival and Lake Pickett roads.

“We love her, we miss her so much, every day is a struggle not having her here,” Olga Ortiz said of her daughter, Stephanie.

READ: 2 women arrested following hit-and-run crash that killed woman on motorcycle in Orange County

The young woman, an avid motorcyclist, was hit by an SUV in a chain-reaction crash, after investigators said 22-year-old Kimberly Guzman-Lijeron sped through the intersection and slammed into the SUV. Troopers said she then called a friend to pick her up from the scene.

Guzman-Lijeron was found at an apartment after a witness identified her as the driver, according to her arrest report. That same witness told troopers they were “drinking and attended an after party,” and when being put under arrest for leaving the scene, Guzman-Lijeron admitted she was driving, but that she “couldn’t recall what had happened.”

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Despite that, troopers said she cannot be charged with DUI.

“We can’t prove whether the alcohol consumption occurred before or after the crash,” FHP Lt. Kim Montes said.

Montes said the challenge is to prove the suspected driver was drunk at the time of impact.

Channel 9 reached out to the driver’s attorney, but did not hear back.

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.