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Wife of Santa Fe man killed in accident during outage sues city

SANTA FE — The wife of a man who was killed in a car accident during a power outage last year says the Santa Fe city government was supposed to have a backup power source at the intersection and is partly responsible for his death.

Jerry Hicks, 39, was killed after an SUV driven by 24-year-old Megan Carrillo plowed into the back of his motorcycle and ran him over on Cerrillos Road at the intersection with Cristo’s Road — at the entrance to the Kohl’s store — on the evening of Aug. 7, 2017.

Jerry Hicks

A massive power outage had caused traffic lights there and other parts of the city to go completely dark. Hicks had stopped before entering the intersection before he was hit. Carrillo was charged with homicide by vehicle, reckless driving and careless driving, but her charges were dropped after a judge found that the grand jury was given a false account by one of the witnesses before Carrillo was indicted.

Hicks’ wife, Michelle Hicks, filed her wrongful death lawsuit in state District Court Tuesday, arguing that the intersection had inadequate traffic controls. “The City of Santa Fe either failed to maintain the traffic lights at the intersection or failed to place a traffic light with a backup power supply at the intersection,” the complaint says. “Moreover, there were not any other lights, warnings or signals placed at the intersection to alert drivers to the presence of the intersection or that the lights were not functioning.”

The suit also says a backup power supply was supposed to be installed at the intersection. “Through a public records request we got the plans for that intersection, and they showed that a battery was supposed to be installed there and never was,” Lee Hunt, Hicks’ attorney, told the Journal.

City spokesman Matt Ross said he couldn’t answer a question about whether a backup power source was supposed to be installed at the intersection. “Because that’s directly material to the lawsuit, I can’t comment on it,” he said.

Although Cerrillos Road is a state highway, the suit says the city is supposed to maintain the intersection per an agreement with the state Department of Transportation. Hunt said Carrillo was not named as a defendant because there was a settlement with her outside of court.

Jerry and Michelle Hicks and their college-bound daughter had been shopping at Walmart on Herrera Drive before the crash, which occurred as Michelle and her daughter watched from a car. Jerry Hicks, a plumber and father of three with a rainwater harvesting business, was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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