Magdalena girls basketball coach killed in Saturday crash - Albuquerque Journal

Magdalena girls basketball coach killed in Saturday crash

Marleen Greenwood

One of the two people killed on Saturday morning in a multi-vehicle accident was Magdalena Steers varsity girls basketball coach Marleen Greenwood, the Journal has confirmed.

Greenwood, 49, and her young niece were killed in a three-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 60 between Socorro and Magdalena. Greenwood, who lived in San Antonio, New Mexico, was en route to Magdalena to coach her team in the afternoon at the school’s annual tournament.

New Mexico State Police on Monday said the crash involved two pickup trucks and a “commercial motor vehicle” carrying an oversized load near milepost 123 east of Socorro. The crash occurred around 10 a.m. Saturday.

Greenwood’s death has hit tiny Magdalena extremely hard.

“She meant everything to us,” a tearful Magdalena boys basketball coach and athletic director Jory Mirabal said Monday in a phone interview. “Coach Greenwood was the kind of coach and teacher you want your kids to be around. There’s not very many people like her, that always put the kids’ needs first. She would always go to battle for her kids.”

New Mexico State Police said their initial investigation showed that a Ford pickup driven by Greenwood had pulled over to the right shoulder to yield to an east-bound CMV. “For reasons still under investigation, a Dodge pickup driven by a 74-year-old male, also traveling west … rear-ended the Ford, pushing it into the path of the oncoming CMV where the CMV and the Ford collided,” according to the State Police statement.

Greenwood and her niece were ejected from their truck and sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Dodge, and the 58-year-old driver of the CMV, were uninjured, according to State Police, who said alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash and that seat belts “do not appear to have been properly worn at the time of the crash.”

Greenwood was in her third season coaching the Magdalena girls, Mirabal said. She graduated from Socorro High and New Mexico State, and was a previous girls basketball coach

Marleen Greenwood, right, and her son, Mason, pose for a photo after Magdalena’s boys basketball team won state back in May. (Courtesy of Jory Mirabal)

and volleyball coach at Socorro, where she once played basketball.

U.S. Highway 60 connects Socorro and Magdalena, which are located about 27 miles apart.

Greenwood’s team decided to play its tournament game Saturday afternoon against Crownpoint in a show of love and respect toward their coach. Magdalena won the game. Sara Sue Olney, a boys assistant coach, led the team.

“They said, ‘We want to play, because that’s what coach Greenwood would want us to do,'” Mirabal said.

Mirabal said Crownpoint deserved credit for agreeing to play, even as their team had to travel another route to Magdalena, which included going south on Interstate 25, then peeling off to travel many miles on a dirt road — located about halfway between Socorro and Truth or Consequences — to eventually loop around and access the school from the west. Highway 60 had been shut down because of the crash.

Magdalena and Socorro were mourning Greenwood’s death over the weekend and into Monday.

“She’s a salt of the Earth,” said Socorro High football coach Damien Ocampo, who was the Warriors’ athletic director when Greenwood coached basketball there. “She bled for the kids. Her heart and soul went into every program she was ever involved with.”

Hondo Valley athletic director Brandon Devine was a college classmate of Greenwood at New Mexico State and had known her for about 30 years.

“Marleen was a great person, always willing to help in whatever way she could,” Devine said. “Whatever she did, she did for the kids, for students, for athletes.”

Greenwood had been employed at Magdalena for just over seven years. Mirabal said she was the student council sponsor, plus an elementary school physical education teacher, and the middle school’s JV volleyball coach. Over the years, she also had been quite involved in the Future Farmers of America program.

“We need more people like her in coaching and more people like her in education,” Mirabal said. “To lose one of the few people that truly understood what that means is devastating to a small school like ours.”

Mirabal described Greenwood as having an infectious smile, a great sense of humor and a passionate movie lover.

“This is affecting everybody,” Ocampo said.

“She was (one) of New Mexico’s great people. She impacted so many lives for so many years. We will all miss her,” was part of a tribute to Greenwood posted Monday afternoon on the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Twitter account.

There was no immediate word about services for Greenwood and her niece, who was 8. Greenwood was a single mother who leaves behind a son, Mason, who was a senior on Magdalena’s state championship boys basketball team last spring.

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