A woman was killed and four others were injured in a head-on collision Oct. 29 east of Bloomfield, New Mexico, after the woman’s westbound vehicle reportedly crossed the center line on U.S. Highway 64 and hit a pickup truck carrying four males.
Leanna Florez, 24, of Bloomfield, was pronounced dead at the scene after she was extracted from her badly damaged Nissan Altima. She did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt, according to a report by Patrolman Nathan Oliver of the New Mexico State Police.
The four males riding in a Toyota Tundra were taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington with injuries.
Lloyd Smith of Farmington told Oliver, the investigating officer, that he was driving east on U.S. 64 at 60 to 65 mph when the Nissan swerved into his truck near mile marker 79. He said he had no time to brake or avoid the collision.
After Oliver reached the scene about 4:28 p.m., the truck became engulfed in flames. Three males were lying on the shoulder of the highway, and the fourth male was lying on the road. Florez was trapped inside the Nissan and apparently had already died.
Emergency medical services arrived a short time after fire personnel 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 large laceration on his shoulder and a compound fracture; and Kyron Smith, 16, of Farmington, complained of back, neck and chest pain.
AirCare lifted Thomas to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, and EMS transported the others.
Only Thomas did not wear a seatbelt, according to Oliver’s report.
According to San Juan Regional Medical Center, Thomas was treated at the medical center and transferred, and the others were treated and released.
The Nissan Altima received severe front-end damage, and fluids 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 not wearing a seatbelt.
Florez was pronounced dead by Shawana Brite of the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.
The Toyota Tundra’s front end also was heavily damaged, and the interior was destroyed by the fire. All airbags had deployed, the patrolman said in his report.
The investigation revealed that the Nissan Altima was westbound on U.S. 64 near milepost 79 at an unknown speed; and the Toyota Tundra, eastbound at 60 to 65 mph. As both vehicles approached a curve in the road, the Nissan crossed the center double yellow line and struck the Toyota head-on.
The investigation found no tire marks, indicating that neither driver had time to brake before the collision. Oliver estimated that both drivers exceeded the speed limit of 55 mph, but he could not determine the point of impact because of the large amount of fluids and debris on the road.
Oliver spoke with other motorists at the scene, but none said they had witnessed the collision.
The State Police report said alcohol might be a factor in the collision. Although a toxicology will determine whether alcohol was a factor, four containers of ‘99 Watermelons’ brand liqueur – which is 49.5% alcohol by volume –were found under the driver’s seat in the Nissan Altima. A cup holder contained about an inch of clear liquid that smelled like watermelon.