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2 killed in collision involving vehicle being pursued

A tow truck driver gets ready to remove the vehicle involved in an early morning double fatal accident at Unser and Sapphire SW . The car was being pursued by BCSO deputies when the crash happened. The intersection was closed throughout the rush hour for the investigation. (ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS / JOURNAL)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

What started as a pursuit involving deputies ended in a violent rollover crash in southwest Albuquerque that killed two people and injured two others.

Connor Otero, a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office spokesman, said no deputies were injured in the incident.

Otero would not identify those killed by name, age or gender.

He said the event started when a BCSO deputy noticed a vehicle speeding around 3:30 a.m. near Bridge and Atrisco SW in the South Valley.

“A deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop of the offending vehicle without success,” Otero said.

Otero said deputies began pursuing the vehicle because of “reckless driving.”

He said that chase went on until the vehicle crashed into another vehicle a few miles away at Sapphire and Unser SW. All three people – a man and two women – in the fleeing vehicle were “either ejected or partially ejected.”

Two of them were pronounced dead at the scene and the third was taken to a hospital. The driver in the other vehicle was also taken to a hospital.

Otero did not give an update on the conditions of those injured.

He said both BCSO and the Albuquerque Police Department are investigating the crash, and what led up to it.

“Further details of the investigation will be released upon completion of the investigation,” he said.

Until a couple of years ago, BCSO policy allowed deputies to pursue suspects only in violent felonies – such as armed robbery and kidnapping – or when “the necessity for immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by the pursuit.”

In July 2017, that policy was changed to allow deputies to pursue misdemeanor suspects if they believe the person is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is “flagrantly reckless” and a danger to others on the road.

After the policy change, BCSO pursuits skyrocketed from 13 and 11 in 2015 and 2016 to 74 in 2017.

A tow truck arrived Wednesday morning to haul away the remains of the crash as deputies locked down the intersection.

The vehicle, crumpled beyond recognition, could be seen up on the sidewalk and against a tree at Sapphire and Unser. All the windows were smashed in, the spare tire had been pushed into the back seat and the roof was peeled back.

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