The two Warren County individuals responsible for the 2016 death of retired Tullahoma city employee Joe Moon pleaded guilty to reckless vehicular homicide charges, according to court reports.


Joe Moon

Kayla Brooke Hickey, of McMinnville, 21 at the time the accident, and Charleston Dakota Ortega, of Rock Island, 22 at the time, were sentenced Wednesday, June 19, to 10 and nine years, respectively, in a Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) facility for the high-speed chase that resulted Moon’s death.


The chase

Early on the morning of July 14, 2016, the 2005 Chevrolet operated by Hickey was traveling at a high rate of speed, ran a traffic light at Carroll Street and T-boned Moon’s 2009 Ford pickup truck.

According to the accident report, Moon’s pickup rolled over after being struck by Hickey’s vehicle, hit a utility pole and caught fire. Moon died at the scene.

According to then-Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves in July 2016, Hickey and Ortega, her passenger, fled after a routine traffic stop for a busted license plate light.

During the traffic stop, Ortega acted suspiciously, trying to hide from view of the deputy performing the stop, according to Graves.

After fleeing the traffic stop, Hickey also attempted to hit a deputy head-on at the intersection of highways 41 and 55 in Manchester, Graves said, citing another reason law enforcement pursued a chase.

Both Manchester and Tullahoma City police departments, as well as Tennessee Highway Patrol, were called in to provide assistance during the chase.

Following the incident, Hickey faced charges of vehicular homicide, as well as schedule I, II and IV drug violations, manufacturing/delivering/selling/possession of a controlled substance, driving on a revoked/suspended license, evading arrest, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities and unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon, illegal possession.

Ortega also faced charges, including vehicular homicide, firearm use in association with dangerous felonies, tampering with or fabricating evidence/destruction of evidence, three counts of a schedule II drug violation, a schedule IV drug violation, unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities and manufacturing/delivering/selling/possession of a controlled substance.



Hickey and Ortega appeared before Judge Vanessa Jackson in Coffee County Circuit Court on Wednesday, June 19, where they were sentenced.

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Kayla Brooke Hickey

According to the court documents, Hickey was sentenced to 10 years in a TDOC facility for reckless vehicular homicide, two years for evading arrest with risk of death or injury in a vehicle, six years for aggravated assault and two years for felony reckless endangerment with a vehicle. All other charges against Hickey were dismissed as part of her plea agreement.

In addition to her jail time, Hickey will also have her license revoked for three years, according to the document.

The documents also say jail credits were given, and her sentences will run concurrent with each other and consecutively with another case out of Warren County.

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Charleston Dakota Ortega

Ortega was also sentenced to time in a TDOC facility, according to the documents. He received 9 years for reckless vehicular homicide, 4 years for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and 6 years for tampering with evidence. All other charges against Ortega were dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

Ortega’s sentences will also run concurrently with each other and one Warren County case, as well as consecutively with another Warren County case. Ortega will also have his license revoked for three years.

Erin McCullough may be reached at