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NMSP: Driver smoked pot before fatally striking pedestrian

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque man is behind bars after New Mexico State Police say he was driving under the influence of marijuana when he fatally struck an elderly man outside Gallup Tuesday evening.

State Police spokesman Ray Wilson said Frank Jiron, 39, was booked into the McKinley County Detention Center in the death of 85-year-old Tommy Mariano.

Jiron is charged with aggravated DWI resulting in death and leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

Wilson said the crash happened around 7 p.m. Tuesday on N.M. 118, a few miles east of Gallup. Mariano was in the roadway “for unknown reasons” when the crash occurred.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court, Jiron was driving several others to pick up a relative at the Fire Rock Navajo Casino when he hit Mariano.

Jiron told police he saw a “flash” and heard a “crash sound” but did not see anything in the road and drove to the casino to get help.

Police say the other passengers had been drinking and they found open containers near the vehicle.

Jiron told an officer he hadn’t had anything to drink but had smoked pot prior to the crash. He also said he takes the antidepressant Zoloft and Clonidine, a medication used to treat high-blood pressure.

“Jiron could not stand still as he kept pacing back and forth and was very talkative with no sense of direction in his conversation,” an officer wrote.

Police say Jiron was taken to the hospital after he had a panic attack upon learning he had struck and killed Mariano.

According to the complaint Jiron later passed an alcohol breathalyzer and a drug recognition expert found he was impaired on a “depressant, narcotic analgesic and cannabis.”

Police say they drew Jiron’s blood for further testing and took him to jail.

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