SANTA FE, N.M. — Pedro “Pete” Sandoval juggled three sports at Moriarty High School — football, basketball and track — and was an “outstanding athlete” in each. Mateo Sandoval, his younger brother, was “coming up to be a great athlete” and following in his brother’s footsteps.
“They were inseparable. They did everything together,” said Marcus Ortiz, Moriarty High’s head basketball coach.
On Tuesday morning, both were killed when they crashed head-on into a pickup truck on their way to the school, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. Pete was 16, Mateo was 14.
Ortiz said Tuesday night that his head was still spinning.
“The whole team is upset. They’re hurting very bad, I don’t know how to …” he said, then paused. “ … We’re all lost for words here. We’re trying to come together as a team to see how we can pull through this.”
Juan Rios, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the two-vehicle crash occurred around 6 a.m. on N.M. 41 south of Dinkle Road in Moriarty.
He said Pete, who was driving, and Mateo were “traveling to school activities” when they crashed into a pickup truck driven by 59-year-old Roman Armendarez.
Armendarez was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
“No charges have been filed in regards to this crash,” Rios said.“This incident remains an open and ongoing investigation.”
N.M. 41 reopened Tuesday afternoon, and Rios said investigators have 45 days to complete the investigation into what led to the crash.
“I heard there was an accident. I heard it involved my players,” Ortiz said. “When I went to the principal’s office, that’s when they told me.”
Ortiz described Mateo as a “very respectful and very hardworking” boy, and Pete as kindhearted and a jokester who knew when to stop.
“He liked to joke around, When it was time to get serious, he was serious,” he said. “Just a great kid, just a great all-around kid.”
Joseph Anaya, athletics director of Moriarty-Edgewood School District, said that the boys were “looked up to, respected and loved by their teammates” and that they worked “as hard in the classroom as they did on the field.”
“They were well-respected and liked by everyone they came into contact with because of the respect and the way they treated others,” he said. “They were truly two great, great, young men.”
Teresa Salazar, superintendent of the Moriarty-Edgewood School District, released a statement mourning the loss.
“This morning, we heard the extremely sad news of two Moriarty High School students involved in a fatal car accident,” Salazar said. “Our entire community is saddened by this horrific tragedy, and sends our condolences to their family and all that knew these amazing young men.”
Salazar said the school, which has about 700 students, is making counselors available at “crisis stations” on campus throughout the week.
Coaches said Pete, a junior, ran track and played varsity football and basketball. Mateo, a freshman, played varsity football with his brother. By 2 p.m. Tuesday, the school had canceled the boys basketball game — which Pete Sandoval would have played in — and the girls game.
“It hurts not only our team, but it hurts the student body and the community as well,” Ortiz said.