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UNM student charged in cyclist’s death to appear in court

Cory Lucero, 21.

Cory Lucero, 21.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 21-year-old University of New Mexico student and assistant soccer coach at Albuquerque Academy is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. in Metropolitan Court on Tuesday on a homicide charge after police say he killed a cyclist while high on marijuana and alcohol.

Police arrested Cory Lucero on Saturday after an officer who spotted him talking on a cellphone in his vehicle noticed he appeared intoxicated and that his car matched the description of a Toyota Tacoma truck that fled the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash involving a cyclist near Coors Bypass and N.M. 528 earlier that evening.

Police spokesman Tanner Tixier identified the cyclist as Jose Ruiz, 25, but said he was unable to provide any further details.

“Of course it’s quite a tragedy,” said Ray Twohig, the attorney representing Lucero in the case.

He said his client was a “fine young man” who was a full time UNM student and had played soccer for La Cueva High School.

“This is terrible, this could happen to anyone,” Twohig said.

Albuquerque Academy Athletic Director Taryn Bachis confirmed that Lucero is an assistant coach for their freshmen soccer team.

Jennifer Buntz, president of the cycling advocacy organization Duke City Wheelme, believes police are not putting enough focus on traffic safety enforcement. Her organization has installed more than 20 white “ghost bike” descansos statewide since 2010 at scenes were cyclists have died as a result of crashes with motor vehicles.

Duke City Wheelmen will hold its annual “Can You See Us Now” bike ride on Route 66 on Sunday, Sept. 28 to honor cyclists injured or killed in accidents with vehicles.

Ruiz was in the right shoulder going from Rio Rancho to Albuquerque when he was hit by Lucero’s truck, police said.

A breath test showed Lucero’s blood alcohol content was .02 or .03 which didn’t match how impaired he appeared when stopped. Officers had noticed an odor of marijuana and he admitted to having smoked a few days earlier. An officer tested him for drugs and found he was high on cannabis.

Lucero is charged with homicide/great bodily harm by vehicle while driving intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily harm/death.

Lucero was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2013. The charges were dropped but could be refiled. He pleaded guilty to speeding 16 to 20 mph over the speed limit in 2012, according to court records.

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