There was another drunken, wrong-way driver on Interstate 25 east of Santa Fe early Wednesday morning, authorities say, but this time nothing was seriously hurt other than the driver’s truck.
Wrong-way drivers on that stretch of interstate have become eerily common, sometimes with tragic consequences. For example, five members of a Las Vegas, N.M., family were killed along with the drunken pick-up driver who slammed head-on into their van just east of town in 2006.
“We were lucky no one else was hurt this time,” Santa Fe County sheriff’s Maj. Ken Johnson said Wednesday afternoon.
The driver in the latest case was identified by the sheriff’s office as Timothy Montoya, 41, of Pecos. He was arrested and charged with aggravated DWI, reckless driving, failure to give immediate notice of an accident and having an open alcohol container in his vehicle.
About 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, the county emergency dispatch center began getting numerous calls from motorists about a silver Dodge truck that crashed into the guard rail off the northbound lanes of I-25 about five miles east of Eldorado. The witnesses also told dispatchers that the wrecked truck then left the scene heading south in the northbound lanes.
The truck no longer had a tire on the front, passenger-side wheel, and the rim was sparking as the driver continued along the road. By the time responding sheriff’s deputies pulled Montoya over near the Old Pecos Trail exit, the truck was on fire, according to Johnson.
The wheel rim “was sparking and the truck caught fire and deputies had to extinguish the fire,” Johnson said.
Montoya appeared to be intoxicated and had an open beer container in the truck, according to the deputies’ report.
Montoya submitted to a breath test that showed his blood-alcohol content to be 0.24 percent — three times the legal limit for driving. Online jail records show he was being held under a $3,500 surety bond Wednesday evening.
“We’ve had some tragic accidents out there, but this time we were fortunate,” Johnson said.