Misawa airman found guilty of recklessly operating a vehicle

  • Published
  • By 35th Fighter Wing
  • Legal Office
On January 29, 2013, Airman First Class Lewis A. Ortiz, 35th Force Support Squadron, pled guilty to reckless driving during a Summary Court Martial held at Misawa AB, Japan.

On 2 September 2012, now Airman Basic Ortiz was the designated driver for three other Airmen. Rather than take his designated driver responsibilities seriously, he demonstrated complete disregard for his fellow Airmen and put their lives at risk.

On a narrow road in the middle of Misawa City, heavily traveled by cars and pedestrians, Ortiz accelerated to well over 85 mph, lost control of his car and slammed into the side of a building. He narrowly missed crashing through the front of "Pink Sushi" restaurant. His vehicle suffered catastrophic damage, requiring the Jaws of Life to extract both the front passenger and Ortiz. Ortiz and the other three Airmen sustained serious injuries included shattered femurs, a ruptured spleen, and bruised lungs which led to life threatening complications down the line-- one Airman's injuries are likely career-ending.

"Sadly, the passengers sustained the very injuries they sought to avoid by using a designated driver and will have life-long injuries to remind them of that." said Lt Col Suzette Seuell, 35th Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate. "The Misawa community needs to understand that speeding off-base on narrow Japanese roads risks the lives of everyone on the road and greatly undermine our host nation relations."

The Summary Court Officer sentenced Ortiz to 30 days confinement, reduction to the grade of E-1, and forfeiture of $1000.00 for 1 month. After completing his jail sentence, Ortiz was discharged from the Air Force.