RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A suspected drunken driver is behind bars after deputies say she struck and killed two men changing a tire on the side of Interstate 25 Tuesday night.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court, Rio Rancho resident Christie Noriega, 31, was booked into the Sandoval County Detention Center on two counts of DWI-related homicide by vehicle in the deaths of 21-year-old Michael Chambellan and 28-year-old Lonnie Escovedo.
It’s Noriega’s second DWI offense, the court documents state. She is also charged with child abuse after her 2-year-old was found in the backseat during the crash.
Neither Noriega nor the child was injured in the crash.
Deputies say one of the men stopped to help the other change a tire on the shoulder of I-25 about two miles south of Algodones.
According to the complaint, Noriega was driving along I-25 around 6:45 p.m. when she sideswiped the car they were changing the tire on, hitting both men.
Deputies found Chambellan and Escovedo lying in the roadway. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
While speaking to Noriega after the crash, deputies say they noticed slurred speech, a “strong odor” of alcohol and “bloodshot, watery” eyes.
Noriega told deputies she had not drunk any alcohol and did not remember the crash.
Deputies say they saw an open “miniature of 99 pineapple liquor” on the ground beside Noriega’s vehicle.
According to the complaint, a sobriety test was not given at the scene because of the crash but Noriega’s blood was drawn by deputies afterward.
According to court documents, Noriega was booked and held without bail, the reasoning citing her as a “flight risk.”
All southbound lanes of I-25 were shut late into Tuesday night, snarling traffic while deputies investigated.
The same stretch of highway was closed again for 15 minutes Wednesday morning for a follow-up investigation into the crash.