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Estate of late Dem official sues over fatal crash

SANTA FE — The estate of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party chair who died in a car crash last year is suing the driver she collided with and the company that hired him to transport its products, for wrongful death.

Susan Popovich, 69, was killed in August 2017 when she entered an intersection and was hit by a semi driven by Rudy Maestas. No charges were filed against Maestas.

A wrongful death suit was filed against Colorado-based Monarch Stone Company, Maestas and Maestas’ DRM Trucking company earlier this month. The complaint was filed by Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe attorney who is also the state Democratic Speaker of the House.

The suit says Monarch should have been aware of Maestas’ driving record before hiring him to transport rocks from Colorado to New Mexico.

“Defendant Maestas’s driving record shows that since 2010, he has received at least three speeding tickets, a citation for failure to maintain a single lane/making erratic lane changes, and several citations for operating his tractor-trailer without equipment required by law,” the suit states.

The suit claims witnesses saw Maestas run a red light, but it does not cite a police report or say where that information came from. It says Maestas “was consciously indifferent to the life and well-being of the New Mexico public.”

Police said Popovich’s Mazda entered the intersection of U.S. 285 and Avenida Vista Grande in Eldorado around on a Sunday morning and collided with a semi-truck that was driving southbound on U.S. 285. Popovich was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver told police he couldn’t stop when the traffic light turned yellow and he drove into the intersection and hit Popovich’s car.

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