Tanker crashes into building, 1 killed

Navajo Times

GALLUP, Aug. 25, 2011

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

The back end of a fuel tanker is seen in the front of a building Aug. 19 in Gallup. One worker from a loan business was killed and three others were injured.

Gallup police are still trying to determine why a fuel-tanker driver lost control of his vehicle while he was driving south on U.S. Highway 491 and crashed into a Sun Loan office, killing one employee and injuring three others.

Killed in the accident was Laura Bitsie, who was at work at the business at the intersection of 491 and Maloney Ave. when the out-of-control truck ran through the walls into the building.

Two others - Gloria Begay and Tiffany Williams - received severe injuries in the accident and were taken to Gallup hospitals.

The driver, Carl Reinhart, 57, of Jamestown, N.M., suffered head injuries in the accident. Later, in the hospital, he was interviewed by police and told them that he could not remember anything about the accident.

Police officials at the time were puzzled by the accident, speculating that the driver could have had a heart attack, fallen asleep at the wheel or had an adverse reaction to prescription medicine he was taking.

They noted that there were no skid marks at the scene, indicating that the driver made no effort to put on his brakes. Blood samples have been sent to the state lab for testing but the results from those tests may not be available for weeks.

The accident disrupted traffic on U.S. 491 through Gallup for several hours.

Police seek suspect in assault

Navajo Nation police are looking for a Fort Defiance man in connection with an aggravated assault that occurred on Aug. 9.

According to police, Peter Charles Yazza, 67, was assaulted in his Fort Defiance home by William Watchman, no age given.

Yazza was reportedly beaten over the head with a flashlight and was airlifted to a hospital in Phoenix for treatment. Watchman fled the scene and is being sought.

Persons with any information about Watchman are being asked to contact the Window Rock Police Department - 928-871-6113.

Smith Lake man injured

Another aggravated assault occurred in Thoreau, N.M.

The victim in this instance was Edison Chapo Jr., 38, of Smith Lake.

It began with a report to police on Aug. 15 of a fight between two brothers. Police were told that one of the brothers was hit in the head and was bleeding heavily.

When police arrived at the scene, they found Chapo being treated by medical personnel. They were told that Chapo had been hit in the head by Joe C. Herrera Jr., 41, of Thoreau, in the front yard of his residence after the two had been drinking.

Chapo was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque and Herrera was placed under arrest.

Woman punched, suspect sought

Tribal police are looking for a suspect in another aggravated assault that occurred in Navajo, N.M., on Aug. 13.

According to police, Colleen Moore, 22, of Crystal, was punched by Deven Tsosie, no age or address given, and knocked to the ground.

Moore blacked out after the assault and woke up with serious injuries to her face, according to police. She was sent to a Gallup hospital where she was treated for blunt force trauma to the face.

Police tried unsuccessfully to locate Tsosie for questioning.

Tuba City man killed in crash

A three-car vehicle crash claimed the life of a Tuba City man on Aug. 15.

The victim was identified as Eric Begay, 21.

The police report did not spell out details of what happened in the accident but it did say that when police officers arrived, they found Begay, the driver of one of the vehicles, under the front driver's side tire.

The truck was on its side and Begay was not wearing a seatbelt, causing him to be ejected when the accident occurred.

Two of the other people involved in the accident were transported to the Tube City hospital but a third one refused medical treatment.

The report did not describe who these were but said that others involved in the accident were Elizabeth Herring, 42, and Phillip Herring, 49, both of Ackland, England, and Milagresa Samaddar, no age given, of Tonalea, Ariz.

2 plead guilty to assault

PHOENIX - Tony Crooke, 43, and Robert Hastings Jr., 23, both members of the Havasupai Tribe, pleaded guilty Aug. 23 to their involvement in a December 2010 assault in Supai, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Crooke pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and Hastings pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

On Dec. 20, 2010, at 2:30 a.m. on the Havasupai Reservation, Crooke and Hastings, along with another co-defendant, Victor Grounds, kicked down the door and broke into a Supai home with three victims inside.

The defendants punched one sleeping victim in the face. The victim suffered a broken orbital bone and lacerations to his face.

Crooke and Hastings left Grounds with the first victim and got on top of another victim. They punched the victim, and Crooke stabbed that victim in the side.

The defendants asked where the money was and looked for money in the pockets of the two victims they assaulted. Before the defendants left the house, they threatened the unharmed female that she should expect physical harm if she contacted police.

The three defendants fled, and police were called. The two victims were flown out of the Grand Canyon and treated at a hospital in Flagstaff.

Sentencing is set Nov. 21 for Crooke and Dec. 5 for Hastings. Grounds is set for trial on Sept. 13.

2 charged for starting Wallow Fire

PHOENIX - Two cousins have been charged for causing a fire that burned more than 538,000 acres in Arizona and part of western New Mexico before it was contained, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Caleb Joshua Malboeuf, 26, of Benson, Ariz., and David Wayne Malboeuf, 24, of Tucson, Ariz., were charged in connection with the Wallow Fire, which started on May 29 in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.

They are scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in Flagstaff on Sept. 19.

The fire, fueled by dry and windy conditions, destroyed 32 residential structures, four commercial structures and 36 outbuildings and cost over $79 million to fight.

Both defendants were charged with five counts: causing timber to burn, leaving a fire unattended and unextinguished, leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it, causing and failing to maintain control of a fire and building a campfire without removing all flammable material from around the campfire adequate to prevent its escape.

Investigation into the source of the Wallow Fire indicated that it started when an unattended campfire in the Bear Wallow area spread out of its fire ring and quickly spread in high winds after Caleb and David Malboeuf had gone on a hike.

Missing: Allen Roy Gray

Allen Roy GrayKAYENTA - The family of Allen Roy Gray is requesting the public's help for any information about his whereabouts. Gray, 15, has been missing since Aug. 6.

He is 5'9", 150 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair. He has a thin build and was last seen at Wetherill Heights wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and black shoes.

Anyone with information about him is urged to contact the Kayenta police at 928-697-5600 or the family at 928-797-5891 or 928-429-8172.

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