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Police report: 5-month-old killed in auto crash


A five-month-old baby was killed in a traffic accident north of Thoreau last Wednesday.

The accident was reported to New Mexico State Police about 8:15 a.m. on State Road 371 around Milepost 8 north of Thoreau, according to a news release from the state police.

An initial investigation showed that a 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer driven by a 28-year-old Albuquerque woman was traveling south on SR 371. For reasons still under investigation, she drove across the center line into opposing northbound traffic where her vehicle clipped a 2013 Nissan Altima’s mirror and then collided almost head on with a 2005 Toyota 4runner. The Mitsubishi then spun into an unoccupied McKinley County Sherriff’s patrol unit that was parked on the right shoulder of the southbound lane. The deputy was investigating a previous crash, however all vehicles from that crash were out of the roadway.

The driver of the Mitsubishi had a five-month-old baby, Osiris Castillo, who was not restrained and suffered fatal injuries in the collision. The driver, the baby’s mother, was airlifted from the scene with serious injuries.

The driver of the 4Runner, a 54-year-old Albuquerque man, was transported by ground ambulance with injuries not believed to be life threatening. The driver of the Nissan was uninjured.

No officers or deputies were injured. Speed and driver inattention are believed to have led to the crash. Alcohol does not appear to be involved and seatbelts were worn by everyone except the baby.

This case is still under investigation. Based on the investigation, felony charges may be pending for the child’s mother for failing to restrain him.

No one injured in police shooting

WINDOW ROCK — No one was injured in an incident last Wednesday when a Socorro County Sheriff’s deputy fired at a car theft suspect who drove a vehicle at him. Navajo Nation Police responded to a call about a stolen vehicle pursuit that began at the Alamo Chapter House in Alamo, New Mexico, on March 6.

The incident, according to statements by New Mexico State Police and the Navajo Police, began as a stolen vehicle investigation being conducted by the Socorro County Sheriff’s Office. During the investigation, a Socorro County deputy arrived at Alamo, where the stolen vehicle, a red Chrysler PT Cruiser, was reportedly located. The deputy saw the stolen vehicle, along with the suspect, Leon Gustafson, 46, of Socorro, at the chapter house. State police say Gustafson got into the PT cruiser and drove the vehicle at the deputy, at which time the officer fired a weapon at the vehicle.

The suspect was not hit by the gunfire and sped away. Police say during the pursuit Gustafson crashed the vehicle on New Mexico State Road 169, near Milepost 29, and fled the scene on foot.

He was eventually caught and taken into custody by the Socorro County Sheriff’s Office. State police say Gustafson was wanted on multiple misdemeanor and felony warrants. An investigation by New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau continues. Navajo police say their officers were not involved in the shooting.

Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run

WINDOW ROCK — New Mexico State Police are investigating a March 5 hit-and-run accident that killed a Crownpoint man less than a mile west of Fire Rock Casino.

According to state police, Tommy Mariano, 85, was struck and killed by a 2003 Dodge van driven by Frank Adrian Jiron, 39, of Albuquerque, at about 7 p.m.

Police say Jiron was traveling west on Route 66 when he allegedly struck Mariano, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Mariano was walking in the roadway for “unknown reasons” when he was hit. During the state police’s investigation, they determined Jiron “exhibited signs of being under the influence of an intoxicating substance” and arrested him. He was booked into the McKinley County Detention Center for DWI.

Police continue to investigate the accident.

Murder suspect turns himself in

WINDOW ROCK — A man wanted in connection with the Jan. 9 shooting death of Logan Francisco was arrested after turning himself in to police on March 7.

According to statement from the Gallup Police, detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Nicholas A. Esquibel, 20, and he was booked into the McKinley County Detention Center on charges of murder, tampering with evidence, negligent use of a deadly weapon and shooting at or from a motor vehicle.

Francisco was shot to death at the Allsup’s Convenience Store in central Gallup.

Woman arrested with 35 pounds of marijuana

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. – A drug-sniffing dog alerted an Apache County Special Crimes Enforcement Team deputy to the presence of 35 pounds of marijuana in a vehicle last week.

The drugs were found at about 4:21 p.m. March 5 during a traffic stop near Mile Marker 392 on U.S. Route 60. Upon contacting the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, Cynthia Jean Martin, 69, of Fort Bragg, California, the deputy observed that she appeared to be extremely nervous and provided conflicting accounts of her travels.

The deputy’s canine alerted to the presence of illegal drugs in the rear trunk compartment of the vehicle. Upon searching the vehicle, the deputy allegedly discovered approximately 35 pounds of marijuana contained in two large duffel bags in the rear trunk area. Martin was subsequently arrested at the scene.

After her arrest, a small amount of methamphetamine was located in Martin’s possession.

Martin was transported to the Apache County Jail in Saint Johns, Arizona. She has been charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of dangerous drugs. Martin’s bail has been set at $150,000.

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