Around 9:57 a.m. Monday, the New Mexico State Police, the Berrendo Fire Department and the Roswell Fire Department Rescue Unit responded to a roll over accident 50 miles north of Roswell on US 285.
According to the NMSP’s investigating officer Sgt. Lawrence Murray, the driver, Joseph Pena of Eagle Pass, Texas, fell asleep at the wheel while traveling northbound on 285 near the 151 mile marker. The vehicle, a 2000 Ford pickup drifted into the central median strip. Pena woke up and attempted to correct his steering. The vehicle veered sharply to the right, causing the pickup to roll several times.
“This was (a) very violent roll over. Both victims were wearing seat belts, and both were found inside the vehicle. The injuries depended on where the crush damage was in the vehicle. That’s why we call them crashes rather than accidents…. When metal meets earth, something’s got to give,” Murray said.
The passenger, Pena’s 16-year-old brother Javier, was pinned inside the vehicle and had to be extricated. The truck came to rest on its side. The Roswell Fire Department had to cut the roof off the truck to get to the youth. “That’s why we responded, because it was a medical emergency and we had the equipment to cut him out. It took about 15 minutes to 30 minutes get him from the cab and prepared for transport,” said RFD Chief Chad Hamill.
Javier was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, but died in transit.
The 19-year-old driver was taken to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell by ambulance. “He was later flown to Lubbock for treatment of his injuries,” Hamill said.
Although no fire resulted from the crash, US 285 northbound was closed for approximately two hours while the scene was investigated and area cleared for traffic.
The New Mexico State Police ruled that fatigue was a contributing factor in this crash.