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Driver in crash that killed priest has been charged

Javier Benavidez, right, and his girlfriend Melanie Misquez place flowers May 23 at the site where Rev. Graham Golden was killed in car crash near Coors and Pajarito SW. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Authorities have charged a 22-year-old Albuquerque man with vehicular homicide and causing great bodily harm by driving recklessly for a May 21 crash in the South Valley that left a Catholic priest dead and another member of the Norbertine Community of Santa María de la Vid Abbey seriously injured.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office secured an arrest warrant on Monday for Manuel A. Soria, who investigators say was driving at least 91 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone at the time of the crash. It is unclear whether Soria has an attorney and the Journal was unable to reach him Monday.

Witnesses who were behind the Ford F150 Soria was allegedly driving told deputies that Soria appeared to be racing with another vehicle when he broadsided the Hyundai Ioniq on Coors.

Rev. Graham Golden

Killed in the crash was the Rev. Graham Golden, a 35-year-old Albuquerque native who joined the Norbertine community 12 years ago and was ordained a priest five years ago. His passenger, 24-year-old Brother Lorenzo (Edgar) Romero, sustained multiple rib fractures and other injuries.

The crash occurred at about 8:30 p.m. as Golden was turning north onto Coors from the driveway of the Santa María de la Vid Abbey.

According to a criminal complaint and arrest warrant affidavit filed in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court on Monday:

Brother Lorenzo Romero

Two witnesses told investigators that the driver of the Ford had been speeding southbound on Coors and was changing lanes aggressively, apparently following another vehicle that was also speeding and driving recklessly. Both witnesses said the Ford appeared to be “racing” with the other vehicle when it struck the Hyundai on the driver’s side.

Deputies say Soria remained at the scene “and did not show any signs of intoxication or impairment.”

Investigators say that, based on information collected at the scene, Soria was driving at least 91 mph in a 55 mph zone.

“These reckless and unlawful actions did result in a vehicle collision, which resulted in the death of a human being (Graham Golden), and the severe injury of another (Edgar Romero),” the court document states.

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