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UPDATED: Fatal Crash Suspect Nearly Deported

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A man accused of driving drunk and killing his 4-year-old grandson in Espanola in March was about to be deported to Mexico, where New Mexico authorities would have had a hard time bringing him back to face charges, KOAT-TV reported.

Mariano Pinon-Chavez, who is facing charges including vehicular homicide, on March 24 allegedly allowed his grandson to sit on his lap and steer his truck when the vehicle hit an embankment and flipped over, pinning the boy beneath the truck, according to Action 7 News and earlier reports.

Pinon-Chavez was arrested in El Paso and bonded out of jail and because he is a Mexican national was taken into custody by immigration officials who were about to deport him, KOAT-TV reported.

“It’s very difficult if he goes to Mexico for us to get him back, which means then this case could not be prosecuted,” 1st Judicial District Attorney Angela Spence Pacheco told Action 7 News.

Immigrations officials turned Pinon-Chavez over to Rio Arriba County law enforcement, and on Tuesday he was back in a New Mexico jail, KOAT-TV said.


3/28/12 — Vehicular Homicide Charges in Crash

By Vic Vela/Journal Staff Writer

The grandfather of a young boy who died in a single-vehicle wreck near Española over the weekend is suspected of driving drunk and now faces charges that include vehicular homicide, according to the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office.

Mariano Piñon-Chavez allegedly admitted that he had been drinking before he got behind the wheel of a Ford F-150 that flipped over on a road in El Llano on Saturday. His grandson, 4-year-old Alan V. Piñon, who was not buckled in and may have been ejected from the truck, died at the scene.

The boy turned 4 in February and was being raised by his grandparents.

“It was just devastating when you see the photos of the child,” said Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jake Arnold. “It’s very debilitating. It made everybody here extremely depressed.”

Authorities said Piñon-Chavez had been drinking at his own home, as well as at another home in the area. After the crash, which took place on Calle Corral, off El Llano Road, Piñon-Chavez carried the “lifeless” body of his grandson back to his home, where deputies soon arrived, according to Arnold.

Arnold said that Piñon-Chavez had “slurred speech and smelled of alcohol” when deputies spoke with him. He at first agreed to take a blood draw at Española Hospital, but later refused. The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant to take a blood sample, the results of which are not yet available.

Piñon-Chavez is being held at the Rio Arriba County jail in Tierra Amarilla on charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving, Arnold said.

The sheriff’s office’s best information on Piñon-Chavez’s age as of Tuesday was that he is 38, based on an immigration document.

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