Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
A burglary investigation in an upscale subdivision in Placitas took a tragic turn Thursday afternoon when police say a Sandoval County deputy on his way to another call backed over a 68-year-old woman, fatally injuring her.
Linda Baragiola was taken to the hospital, where she died.
Neighbors say Baragiola had lived in an adobe house on the corner of Trail Road West and U.S. 165 for about 20 years. They said she and her late husband, Eddie, a former New York City police officer, were very gregarious and well-liked.
“They would have a few parties here and there, and neighbors would be invited,” said Jim LaPrelle, who said he had known the Baragiolas for many years. “They liked to socialize. They were very involved in the homeowners association.”
He believed Baragiola had lived alone in the house since Eddie died several years ago. She was the aunt of former Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office undersheriff Sal Baragiola.
Around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, a Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputy was called to the neighborhood to investigate a burglary alarm at a nearby house. While the deputy was investigating the alarm, he got a call about another burglary, said officer Ray Wilson, a New Mexico State Police spokesman.
That’s when the deputy backed up his marked Dodge Ram pick-up truck, and struck Baragiola, knocking her down, Wilson said.
“The deputy then inadvertently drove over the pedestrian with the vehicle’s right rear tire,” Wilson wrote in a news release.
Witnesses told police Baragiola had been standing behind the deputy’s truck and had possibly been talking on her cellphone when she was hit.
“The Sandoval County Fire Department responded to the scene and transported Ms. Baragiola to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque where Ms. Baragiola succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased,” Wilson said.
Few other details were available Friday night and Wilson said the investigation is ongoing. Neither he nor a State Police spokeswoman responded to questions about the burglary investigations. They did not say whether Baragiola had talked to deputies at the scene before the crash.
State Police did not identify the deputy.
Lt. Keith Elder, a Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said he did not know if the deputy had been interviewed about the crash or if he had been put on administrative leave.
By Friday afternoon, the subdivision was quiet.
LaPrelle said he and most of the neighbors consider Baragiola’s death a horrible accident.
“As for the deputy, I’m sure he’s tremendously traumatized by what happened,” LaPrelle said. “And her losing her life. Everybody thinks it’s a terrible tragedy all the way around.”
He said Baragiola’s death comes in the midst of a recent increase in property crimes in the area.
“It’s usually a pretty quiet community,” LaPrelle said. “But it seems like lately in last year or so there have been more burglaries than I can recall.”