Police Blotter: Eight killed on Navajo roads during Fourth of July weekend
Eight people died on Navajo roads during the extended Fourth of July weekend, according to the Navajo Police Department.
There was also a drowning and one homicide.
The worst accident, which claimed five victims, occurred north of Navajo, N.M.
Police have identified four of the victims, all from the Chinle area. They are Cheryl Watchman, 47; Rebecca Dedman, 28; Nancy Tsosie, no age given; and Dalton Chee, also no age given. The fifth victim was listed on the Navajo Police Department report as John Doe.
Police said the accident occurred about 6:30 a.m. on July 4 near the 38 mile marker on Navajo Route 12. Police officers were informed of an accident with multiple victims and the car they were in reported to be on fire.
Police arrived on the scene before the fire department did and they observed that the car was on fire, and while two of the victims had been ejected, the other three were still in the vehicle.
The first officer on the scene rushed to the car after getting his fire extinguisher out of his vehicle, but he reported that the fire was so intense that his extinguisher, which soon ran out, was ineffective.
Witnesses told police that before the accident occurred, they saw the vehicle driving at a high rate of speed. Police also said when they arrived at the scene, they found a number of beer cans around the vehicle.
In another incident, Patterson Begay, 27, who is a resident of Red Rock, N.M. died July 3 as a result of a vehicle/pedestrian accident.
Paula James, the driver of the vehicle, said she was traveling north on State Road 602 near the 25 mile marker about 7 a.m. when she saw Begay walking alongside the road in front of her.
She told sheriff deputies that the victim walked in front of her vehicle and although she attempted to avoid hitting the victim, she was unsuccessful.
Witnesses interviewed by deputies for the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office confirmed James’ account, saying that it appeared the victim intentionally walked in front of the car.
Another vehicle fatality occurred on July 3 on State Route 264 in the St. Michaels area.
The victim was identified as Fabian James, 46, of Ganado, Ariz.
Police were dispatched to the area near mile marker 462 about 12:38 p.m. in reference to a vehicle rollover. The driver was reported to have been ejected from the vehicle and police reported that the victim was not responsive when they arrived on the scene.
The police report said the victim was lying on his back covered with a white blanket when police arrived. Emergency medical technicians were already on the scene and had already announced the victim to be deceased.
According to witnesses, James’ vehicle was traveling west at a high rate of speed when he lost control and ran off the road. He managed to recover and bring the car back on the road, but it then crossed the line into the eastbound lane and went off the road again, hitting a tree stump and rolling over, ejecting the driver.
Police said they found beer cans at the scene of the accident.
The final accident occurred about 2 p.m. July 4 about 1.3 miles south of Navajo Route 7140 on TsoDeTah Canyon Road near Manuelito, N.M.
The victim in that accident was identified as Monica Whitmore, 27 of Gamerco, N.M.
State police, as well as Gallup Med Star and the Gallup Med Flight crew were on scene when Navajo police arrived.
According to the Navajo Police report, the victim was in her seat belt and EMTs had to cut the seatbelt to get her out. Police also reported that the SUV was upside down with “heavy cave-in damage” to the vehicle.
Witnesses told police that the vehicle was driving at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control, causing the car to roll over.
The drowning occurred about 7:15 p.m. July 5 in the Perky riverbed, east of the Munoz Overpass in Gallup.
The victim was identified as Allen Joe Begay, 61, of White Cone, Ariz.
Police said they weren’t sure if Begay was trying to cross the Perky when a flash flood occurred because of recent rains or whether he was resting in the Perky and was surprised by the rushing water.
“This is the first drowning of the year for us,” said Gallup Police Captain Rock White.
The body was sent to Albuquerque for an autopsy.
White, in an interview on Begay’s death, stressed that people should be careful going into the Perky at this time of year because of flash floods. Even if there had been rain in the Gallup area, the Perky sometimes fills up because of runoff from rains that occur to the east of town.
Navajo Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred on July 3 that resulted in the death of a Kayenta man. The victim was identified as Don Yellowhair, 60.
Police said that the victim was stabbed several times in the right chest area. The stabbing took place about a quarter mile west of the Wetherill Inn Motel in Kayenta.
The police report listed Arlon Kaye, 31, of Kayenta as a suspect, saying he was apprehended by police during their initial investigation.
Another homicide occurred on July 1 in the Bread Springs, N.M. area, according to police, who identified the victim of that incident as Durwin Merrill David, 23 of Bread Springs.
The suspect in this case is unknown.
Police said they found several small puncture wounds to the victim’s right chest area near his armpit consisted of pellets from a shotgun.
A green plastic 12 gauge shotgun casing was located near the victim.