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DWI Union City Driver Admits Guilt In Head-On Crash That Killed HUMC Nurse

Adriana Riano died in a Jersey City crash after being struck head-on by Jonathan Ortiz-Guananga, authorities said.
Adriana Riano died in a Jersey City crash after being struck head-on by Jonathan Ortiz-Guananga, authorities said. Photo Credit: Adriana Riano Facebook/HCPO

A Union City driver will be sentenced to a plea-bargained nine years in state prison for a DWI crash that killed a popular Hackensack University Medical Center nurse in Jersey City last year, authorities said Thursday.

Jonathan Ortiz-Guananga, 27, struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to death by auto and assault by auto rather than go to trial for the early-morning May 5, 2019 crash on Paterson Plank Road that killed Adriana Riano of North Bergen.

Ortiz-Guananga was drunk, speeding and driving recklessly when his 2015 Dodge Charger slammed into a 2018 Ford Edge driven by Riano just south of Congress Street, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said.

Riano, her 30-year-old male passenger and Ortiz-Guananga were all taken to Jersey City Medical Center, where Riano was pronounced dead about eight hours later, Suarez said.

Riano's passenger was treated for non-life threatening injuries and Ortiz-Guananga was treated for severe leg trauma, she said.

Riano's death devastated those who knew her, including loved ones and friends who attended the plea hearing in Jersey City.

"Adriana had this incredible ability to find the good in everyone she met," according to a GoFundMe in her memory that had raised more than $42,700 as of Thursday morning. "If you need help or just some encouragement she was always there."

Adriana Riano

GoFundMe photo

Assistants Prosecutor Leo Hernandez and Prosecutor Luisa Florez of Suarez's office secured the pleas in exchange for consecutive sentences of eight years for the death-by-auto count and a year for the assault-by-auto conviction.

Ortiz-Guananga must serve a little over 7½ years of that term before he'll be eligible for parole under the No Early Release Act.

Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Arre scheduled sentencing for Oct. 29.

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