Erik Nicholas Ortiz and Derek Verdugo Were La Habra Buddies; Now One's Held for Killing the Other

derek-verdugo_facebook-150.jpg
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Derek Verdugo
Pomona police were called Monday night to an area near the town's cemetery where a Nissan Sentra had hit a tree and rolled.

It was discovered at the scene that Derek Verdugo, 25, of La Habra, had been ejected from the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

But police say Verdugo was the passenger, not the driver, who was nowhere to be found . . . until about five hours later when Erik Nicholas Ortiz waltzed into Pomona police headquarters.

erik-ortiz_facebook.jpg
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Erik Ortiz
Ortiz, 24, of La Habra, was later booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter and held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

He's an Army National Guard aircraft power-plant repairer who studied at Fullerton College, according to his Facebook profile. He and Verdugo were also Facebook friends.

Verdugo was a musician and "regular Coachella head," notes Simone Wilson on our big sistah paper LA Weekly's The Informer news blog. He's shown behind a drum kit in some Facebook photos. 

Based on R.I.P. messages left on Verdugo's wall and with Wilson's post, he, Ortiz and some commenters attended a nearby function prior to the accident.

Police have not yet said whether alcohol or any other substance was a factor in the wreck.

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8 comments
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Jeremy Emerson21
Jeremy Emerson21

honestly i just started working with Derek at Five Guys in whittier ca, he was a great guy so nice and helpful all the co workers are giving his family the tips we make and more money on the side. five guys just seem so different without him even tho i just meet Derek he helped me and others and he will be truly missed, part of the five guys family and im sorry for the lost. we will miss him and his high energy and laugh. god bless. R.I.P. Derek  

GETITRIGHTCOKER
GETITRIGHTCOKER

DEREK WAS MY COUSIN AND I THINK YOU NEED TO CHANGE THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE ITS FOOLISH. MY COUSINS FRIEND DID NOT SHOOT HIM . THEY WERE IN A CAR ACCIDENT THAT MY COUSIN UNFORTUNATELY WAS THE ONE WHO DIED. DONT MAKE THE KID LOOK BAD. MY FAMILY IS HURTING FOR THE LOSS OF MY COUSIN AND SO IS ERIKS FAMILY. HER SONS LIFE IS RUINED. MATT COKER THIS IS UNFORTUNATE FOR EVERYONE.

Eriks mom
Eriks mom

Thank you for your kindness towards my son and our family. We loved Derek also. He was part of our family. We wish this tragedy had never happened. All of our lives, your familys and mine, have changed forever. RIP, Derek.

Pjverdugo
Pjverdugo

im paul dereks brother this accident is a terrible tragedy for everyone who knew both derek and eric. we all make mistakes in life and deserve a second chance i pray for eric and his family in this tough time. may my beautiful baby brother rest in peace in eternal happines we will all miss him soo much. they had just left after seeing queens of the stone age at the fox theater in pomona when the accident occured. R.I.P D-ROCK you taught me soo much about life i love you brother see you on the other side 

Emmyluv999
Emmyluv999

Thank you, Paul. You and your family are in my familys prayers. We all, including Erik, cry often and are heartbroken over this tragedy, and we pray for you and your family. Nothing we can say or do can bring your precious brother back, but we can all try to better our lives in honor of Derek. You and your familys attitude is amazingly kind and generous towards Erik and his family, even in the midst of your grief. We love you and you will always be in our prayers.

Myoung2
Myoung2

Homeez be hard in LH.

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