The New Mexico State Police reports that alcohol may have been involved
A woman was killed and four others injured in a head-on collision on Oct. 29 east of Bloomfield, New Mexico, after the woman’s westbound vehicle reportedly crossed the centerline of US Highway 64 and struck a pickup truck carrying four men.
Leanna Florez, 24, of Bloomfield, was pronounced dead at the scene after being pulled from her badly damaged Nissan Altima. She did not appear to be wearing a seat belt, according to a report by New Mexico State Police Patrolman Nathan Oliver.
The four men, who were driving in a Toyota Tundra, were taken to the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington with injuries.
Lloyd Smith of Farmington told Oliver, the investigating officer, that he was traveling east on US 64 at 60 to 65 miles per hour when the Nissan pulled into his truck near mile marker 79. He said he didn’t have time to brake or avoid the collision.
After Oliver reached the scene at around 4:28 p.m., the truck burst into flames. Three men were lying on the shoulder of the freeway and the fourth man was lying on the roadway. Florez was trapped in the Nissan and apparently already dead.
Paramedics arrived shortly after the fire department and began treating the driver and three passengers.
Lloyd Smith, 58, had blood on his face and complained of pain, Oliver reported.
Jasper Ratliff, 32, of Farmington, suffered a broken leg; Mark Thomas, 31, of Waterflow, suffered a major laceration to his shoulder and a compound fracture; and Kyron Smith, 16, of Farmington, complained of back, neck and chest pain.
AirCare took Thomas to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, and EMS transported the others.
According to Oliver’s report, only Thomas was not wearing his seat belt.
According to the San Juan Regional Medical Center, Thomas was treated at the medical center and transferred, and the others were treated and released.
The front of the Nissan Altima was severely damaged and liquids leaked from the vehicle. The top and driver’s side of the vehicle were cut open to extract Florez’s body. The front and side airbags had deployed, but Florez was unbuckled.
Florez was pronounced dead by Shawana Brite of the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.
The front end of the Toyota Tundra was also badly damaged and the interior destroyed by the fire. All the airbags deployed, the patrol officer said in his report.
The investigation determined that the Nissan Altima was traveling westbound on US 64 near Milepost 79 at an unknown speed; and the Toyota Tundra, eastbound at 60 to 65 miles per hour. As both vehicles approached a curve in the roadway, the Nissan crossed the double yellow line in the middle and collided head-on with the Toyota.
The examination revealed no tire marks, indicating that neither driver had time to brake before the collision. Oliver estimated that both drivers exceeded the 55 mph speed limit, but he was unable to determine the point of impact due to the large amount of liquid and debris on the pavement.
Patrol Officer Oliver spoke to other motorists at the scene, but none said they witnessed the collision.
According to the state police report, alcohol may have played a role in the collision. Although toxicology will determine whether alcohol played a role, four containers of ’99 Watermelons’ brand liquor – which contains 49.5% alcohol by volume – were found under the driver’s seat of the Nissan Altima. A cup holder held about an inch of clear liquid that smelled like watermelon.