Kenner hit-and-run suspect arrested; 8-year-old victim in critical condition

Updated: Mar. 1, 2021 at 11:31 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A 43-year-old Kenner man is behind bars facing serious criminal charges after allegedly hitting an 8- 8-year-old boy and leaving the scene.

Kenner Police Department spokesman Lt. Michael Cunningham said Juan Orellana, 43, was arrested Monday morning, some 12 hours after the incident.

“From what we understand speaking to family members they were leaving the Kenner City Park which is at the intersection of Loyola and Vintage. They lived in the neighborhood back there. The kid was on a bike, it was battery-operated, when they got to that section, he went to cross the street,” said Cunningham.

Orellana hit the child in the 600 block of Vintage Drive. The park is located at Vintage and Loyola Drive.

“I ran outside, like I said, the time I got out they had the ambulance and police out already,” said Elizabeth Mcinerney who lives in the neighborhood.

The boy suffered a fractured skull, according to Cunningham. Orellana was booked with hit-and-run-serious-bodily-injury.

“It’s sad, I mean, I don’t know how somebody could just leave somebody, you know, laying there, especially a child,” said McInerney.

Police say witnesses took pictures of the vehicle and one of them followed the Jeep into the Southlake Subdivision located on Loyola near Vintage Drive.

“But didn’t find which house the vehicle went to, throughout the evening officers searched that neighborhood looking for the vehicle, early this morning they did find it. They spoke to the owner of the vehicle, he’s been identified as Juan Orellana, he’s 43, he lived in that neighborhood,” Cunningham said.

He said a search warrant confirmed that the Jeep had been in an accident.

“Once they executed the search warrant, they found evidence in the under-carriage of the vehicle, paint transfer from the bicycle the kid was riding on and based on scrapes, new damage to the under-carriage they were positive that this was the vehicle and the fact that Mr. Orellana matched the description he was arrested this morning about 6:30 a.m.,” said Cunningham.

He was asked if Orellana gave a reason for leaving the scene.

“The only statements he made when the officers arrested him this morning was that he said that he was there in the area but denied striking the kid and didn’t give any reason of why he would have left the area,” Cunningham said. “Witnesses said that after he did hit the kid on the bike he had stopped, he walked to the back of the vehicle; when he saw the kid on the ground, citizens rendering aid to the child he turned around got back into his vehicle, and left the scene.”

It is not the first time Orellana has had a hit-and-run incident said Cunningham.

“There was a similar incident Mr. Orellana was involved in, in January of 2013 where he struck a parked vehicle; he was arrested for that incident, a misdemeanor charge. During that investigation, he also admitted he was in the area but denied the hit and run and he did mention some prescription medication he was taking prior to that accident. so that possibly may be the motive for why he fled from this scene was being under the influence,” said Cunningham.

The boy was in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center in New Orleans.

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