SANTA FE – About four years ago, a doctor probably helped Juliana Reyes Vasquez into the world.
Now, a doctor is accused of ending her life.
Juliana, 4, died early Saturday morning, about two hours after an alleged drunken driver struck a minivan at a Santa Fe intersection that carried the child, her 3-year-old sister Yeretez Jasmine Reyes Vasquez and their mother, Carla Vasquez Rivera. Mother and sister were both injured, but survived.
Deborah Aaron, a former surgeon at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center who currently has ties to Doctors Without Borders, is accused of being drunk behind the wheel of the SUV that T-boned the Rivera Vasquez family’s minivan.
Aaron, 56, is a New York University graduate who attended medical school at UCLA, according to information from her Facebook page. The doctor was booked without bond into the Santa Fe County jail early Saturday on charges of DWI and vehicular homicide.
“I think it’s just horrible,” said Santa Fe Police Capt. George Ortiz. “All the announcements telling people not to drive drunk. … It’s just a terrible thing that a young life was lost, (especially) if in fact it was because of alcohol.”
The wreck occurred at about 11 p.m. Friday at the intersection of St. Francis Drive and Siringo Road. Vasquez Rivera and her daughters were traveling east on Siringo in their green 2002 minivan when, police believe, Vasquez Rivera attempted to turn north onto St. Francis. The minivan was struck by a southbound 2004 green Land Rover driven by Aaron, according to Ortiz.
When police arrived at the scene, Aaron “exhibited signs of impairment,” Ortiz said. Field sobriety tests were conducted, but the police captain said he didn’t know how Aaron performed, saying only that the arresting officers felt there was “probable cause to believe that she was impaired.”
Ortiz said police found no incriminating debris, such as open alcohol containers, at the scene. Both Aaron and Vasquez Rivera agreed to blood draws after the crash. Results of those blood draws are pending.
Both girls were in the back seat and in car seats at the time of the crash, and both drivers were wearing seatbelts, according to police.
Juliana and her mother were taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where the child was pronounced dead a short time later. Vasquez Rivera was in serious condition Saturday morning, according to hospital spokesman Arturo Delgado.
Yeretez was also taken Christus St. Vincent but later airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital. Ortiz said Saturday the transfer was only for “precautionary reasons.” The little girl was in stable condition Saturday evening, and her injuries have been deemed non-life threatening, according to the police captain.
Attempts to reach the Vasquez Rivera family were unsuccessful Saturday.
About three years ago, Aaron worked as a surgeon at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, according to Delgado, who was unable Saturday to provide information about the circumstances that led to Aaron’s leaving the hospital.
According to her Facebook page, Aaron recently traveled with a Doctors Without Borders team to Africa. In November, she posted a photograph to her page that showed her and others affiliated with the humanitarian organization on a trip to Libya.
A phone call placed to a Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
The new owner of Aaron’s former residence in downtown Santa Fe said that it was his understanding that Aaron was in between projects and had “just come back from assignment from Africa.”
“She seemed like a very generous and considerate person,” the new owner of the property said. “But that’s just based on ten minutes worth of conversations.”