A Denton, Texas, man is critically injured after he apparently ran off the road and into a canyon near the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns. (Submitted Photo)
A driver is in critical condition following a single-vehicle crash either Thursday morning or Wednesday night near Carlsbad Caverns, the New Mexico State Police reported.
At approximately 6:50 a.m. Thursday, state police officers responded to a crash on State Road 7 at the entrance of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Visitors to the park spotted a badly damaged sports utility vehicle about 200- feet down a steep embankment near the visitor center, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
They alerted an employee who was arriving for work, and she made her way down the hillside. She found a male victim lying outside the vehicle, breathing but unconscious, and immediately called for help, according to NPS.
An initial investigation on scene determined a 2006 Toyota SUV, driven by Clyde Elliott, 23, of Denton, Texas, was traveling north on S.R. 7. As he traveled north, he encountered a left-hand curve, according to the police report. Elliott failed to negotiate the curve and drove off the east side of the roadway. Once off the road, the vehicle traveled down a canyon and rolled multiple times. Elliott was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected.
The victim may had been in the canyon since the night of July 2, but an exact time of the accident has not been determined, according to NPS.
Elliott sustained multiple injuries in the crash and was flown from the scene by TriState to University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.
Driver inattention has been determined as a contributing factor and it is unknown whether alcohol was a contributing factor, the crash reported stated.
An investigation is ongoing and anyone with information should call the state police at 505-827-9300.