Albuquerque, New Mexico – March 22, 2011
Police say two cars collided on southbound Interstate 25 in the Renaissance area of Albuquerque on Tuesday night, killing two people who were thrown from a vehicle.
The Albuquerque Police Department reports that 28-year-old Bloomfield resident Stephanie Mendez was traveling south along I-25, near Exit 229 (Montano Road NE), when she apparently lost control of her vehicle. Investigators say Ms. Mendez jumped a curb, striking two road signs and crashing through a barbed wire fence.
A second vehicle then struck Ms. Mendez’s, causing it to turn at least 180 degrees. The impact also threw two of her passengers from the vehicle: Paul Esquibel, 22, and Danalynn Boyd, 24. Paramedics were summoned to the scene, but both Mr. Esquibel and Ms. Boyd died a short time later.
Investigators say three occupants of the second vehicle suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.
Police shut down I-25 for several hours to conduct an investigation, clear roadway debris and treat the wounded.
Offciers are exploring the possibility that Ms. Mendez was under the influence of alcohol. According to court documents, Ms. Mendez has two prior alcohol-related arrests, including one conviction.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 1.13 fatalities occurred for every 100 million miles of travel in 2009. The rate in 1966 was 5.5 deaths per 100 million miles.
UPDATE: Charges have yet to be filed against Ms. Mendez in the crash. Prosecutors in San Juan County say she appeared in court the week of June 20-24 on domestic violence counts, as well as violating release conditions, but evidence is still being collected in the deaths of Mr. Esquibel and Ms. Boyd.
UPDATE: A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Ms. Mendez but she has reportedly taken refuge in Crownpoint, tribal territory which lies outside the jurisdiction of the Albuquerque Police Department. Officers have appealed to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for cooperation.
UPDATE: On August 5, Ms. Mendez surrendered to police. She has been charged with four felonies, including aggravated driving while intoxicated and vehicular homicide.
If you would like an official copy of the police report, request a copy with this form, or call 1-505-247-9333.