Family members remember hit and run victim Juan Pablo Santillan
Joel and Lisette Ortiz of Kremmling lost their relative, Juan Pablo Santillan, when he died in a hit-and-run on May 29. Santillan was Joel’s first cousin once removed, but the Ortizes considered him their nephew.
Juan Carlos Flores Flores is accused of killing Santillan when he allegedly put his truck in the wrong gear and drove Santillan past the Eastin Hotel in Kremmling. Flores and Santillan knew each other and Flores is the brother-in-law of Joel Ortiz’s sister.
Joel said Santillan was a hardworking person who loved his family. He also described him as a people person.
“In the short time he’s been here, which is almost six months, five months, he’s made so many friends, so many acquaintances,” Joel Ortiz said. “I’ve been here six years and I haven’t made as many acquaintances as him.”
In memory of Santillan
Santillan moved to Kremmling from Mexico in December 2021 and worked at Walmart. Santillan’s friends and colleagues told Joel that he seemed very happy the day before his death, dancing and getting excited for the weekend parties.
Some of the money Santillan earned from his work went to his family in Mexico. Joel said Santillan doesn’t fully support his family, but will send money for things like his mother’s birthday. Santillan paid for his mother to take a birthday vacation at the beach and sent his brother $50 for his birthday, Joel said.
Joel didn’t know Santillan long before the 19-year-old arrived in the United States, but tried to help him in any way he could and teach Santillan life lessons in his father’s absence. .
“I helped him (the) first few months,” Joel said. “Then, I mean, I kind of wanted him to be on his own, you know, so he could be on his own and be his own man.”
Santillan enjoyed playing with the Ortiz children. Joel says he has trouble explaining to them what happened to Santillan.
“We don’t even have the words,” Joel said. “We don’t know what to tell them.
Assistant District Attorney James Hesson requested $5,000 bond for Flores, but Judge William Herringer set the bond at $1,500. Flores posted bond on the night of May 31.
The Ortizes requested a bail hike after Kremmling Police Chief Hiram Rivera came to their home to personally tell them the bail amount. Joel said they wanted to raise bail because they considered Flores a flight risk.
“His plan is to get out,” Joel said. “That’s why we were trying to bring it up.”
Although Joel thinks the district attorney didn’t push hard enough for a higher bond, he said the only explanation he received for the reduction was about the type of bail hearing.
“The attorney didn’t have enough time to speak with Juan Carlos, I assume, about the charges,” Joel said.
The Flores bond hearing was held on Sunday, which means Colorado Bond Hearing Office 1 handled it. The office covers 22 Colorado counties on weekends and holidays. Judge Herringer, who heard the case, normally serves Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan counties in the 6th Judicial District.
The weekend bail hearing system guarantees defendants a bail hearing within 48 hours of arrest. House Bill 21-1280, which took effect April 1, guarantees defendants these speedy hearings and created the weekend bond hearing system.
Flores’ bond includes a supervised sobriety condition, for which he will have to report three times a week. Joel doesn’t think that will stop Flores from trying to leave.
“Technically, he could breathalyzer the last three days of the week,” Joel said. “In the meantime, he has all these other days to, I mean, disappear. It doesn’t take long to disappear.
Flores’ next court appearance is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on June 7.
Joël created a Gofundme in memory of Santillan, entitled “En memoria a juan pablo santillan casillas”.