by Publisher CoachellaValley | September 14, 2021 1:03 am
A 23-year-old former high school football player and father of a baby girl was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Desert Hot Springs early Saturday.
The crash occurred just after midnight on Palm Drive north of Varner Road and claimed the life of former Shadow Hills High School student and football player Isaiah Ortega-Dage.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Ortega-Dage was riding in a vehicle with a female driver when they stopped between the right lane and right shoulder. He then got out and walked to the driver’s side of the vehicle and was struck by an oncoming pickup while standing in the right-hand lane.
The CHP said the man driving the pickup did not stop at the scene but was found by authorities a short distance away and was allegedly intoxicated.
The man driving the truck was identified as 41 year old Tafoya-Flores and allegedly ran into him with his pick-up truck on Palm Drive, north of Varner Road in Desert Hot Springs early Saturday morning. Tafoya-Flores did not stop his vehicle, CHP Sgt. Al Saig said Saturday.
Ortega-Dage, a resident of Indio, died at the scene 14 minutes after being struck by Flores’ pickup, according the Riverside County coroner’s office.
Flores is being held at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio on $75,000 bail on suspicion of hit-and-run as well as other alleged charges such as DUI, according to jail records.
He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance as early as Wednesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Shadow Hills football coach Alex Esquibel — an assistant coach when Ortega-Dage was on the team — told The Desert Sun that many current Shadow Hills coaches and students knew him and were struggling with the news of his death.
“The Knights football family has lost one of their own,” Esquibel said. “Isaiah’s years at Shadow Hills were the years the foundation of our football program was being laid — the Knights of those days played a big part in making Shadow Hills known. Isaiah was a Knight through and through.”
Ortega-Dage was also the De Anza League’s offensive player of the year for the 2014 season.
“He will be missed,” the coach added. “We mourn with his family during these trying times and we plan to honor his legacy as our season moves forward.”
Ortega-Dage was also an accomplished track and field athlete, according to Richie DeTamble, head track coach at Shadow Hills High School. In fact, DeTamble said he was “the best athlete I have ever been around and coached.”
“I’ve spent over a day trying to gather my words, and woke up today wishing the news wasn’t true. But our Knight track and football programs have been rocked with the passing of one of our legends.”
Isaiah Ortega-Dage, class of 2015, was electric on the football field and one of the most gifted track athletes I’ve ever coached or been around. When his competitive drive was full throttle, there was no one in this valley that could stop him in the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, triple jump, high jump … and you better have a huge lead in the relays or my dude was going to take your lunch and eat it! On the football field, paired up with Tony Williams, good luck stopping the read option!
People that didn’t know him just knew of the legend or what they read in the paper. But away from the track and the field was a young father who turned his life around to give his beautiful daughter the best life possible. He was built to be a dad! I was so proud of that.
A couple months ago, Isaiah thanked me for being hard on him his senior year and not letting him get away with things because it humbled himself as he transitioned to the REAL world. We talked about life, talked about track, talked about fatherhood.
I told him that he was my sons first football hero back in elementary/middle school, and Isaiah said he was gonna return the favor and be one of his biggest fans. Sure enough, he made it a point to message me after every notable accomplishment.
Thoughts and prayers go out to his daughter, his daughters mother Ayanna, his mother and father, his brother and sister, and all his former teammates, coaches and friends that truly knew Isaiah. We’re going to miss your humor, your energy, and your sarcasm. God speed. Love you IOD7 💜
A GoFundMe page to support Ortega-Dage’s family. Click here to visit that page
On September 11th we tragically lost a bright soul. Isaiah Ortega Dage was an amazing son, partner, brother, father, and friend. He made everyone laugh wherever he went. Isaiah leaves behind his beautiful baby girl who meant the entire world to him. Isaiah had so many plans for his daughter that now we have to make sure they are all fulfilled. Anything you send will help in this journey and we are so appreciative of everyone’s well wishes and prayers. His family loves and misses him so much, he will never be forgotten. If you aren’t wanting to donate through here you can also send through Zelle; Ayanna Murphy 442 -599- 2575
There are many tributes and condolences on social media timelines of the affected friends and families. Death has always created deep heartbreak and an inexplicable deep sense of loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family who has lost their beloved one and also with friends who must have been devastated by the death news.
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