Motorcyclist hit in DWI wreck dies; car driver charged with vehicular homicide - Albuquerque Journal

Motorcyclist hit in DWI wreck dies; car driver charged with vehicular homicide

SANTA FE — A motorcyclist who was rear-ended by an alleged drunk driver in Santa Fe over Easter weekend died Tuesday morning, according to Santa Fe police spokesman Greg Gurule.

Gurule said a vehicular homicide charge will now be filed in the case.

On April 15, Paul Padilla, 63, was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital after he was hit from behind by a car driven 22-year-old Paulo Vega-Mendoza on Airport Road near Camino Entrada around 5:45 p.m.

Paulo Vega-Mendoza
Paulo Vega-Mendoza

A police report says Padilla’s motorcycle rolled on top of him, causing severe injuries to his head and body. He died early Tuesday, Gurule said.

An officer who arrived at the scene saw a good Samaritan chasing a man, later identified as Vega-Mendoza, down Camino Jacobo. Police caught Vega-Mendoza when a fence he was trying to scale broke. Vega-Mendoza had an odor of alcohol coming from his breath, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, the report says.

He was taken to the hospital for a blood draw after he refused to take field sobriety tests.

Vega-Mendoza, who does not have a previous criminal history in New Mexico, was originally charged with causing great bodily harm with a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily harm, failing to give immediate notice of an accident and criminal damage to property.

Police spokesman Greg Gurule said he will now be charged with vehicular homicide.

One witness told police that Vega-Mendoza was revving his engine and speeding before he hit Padilla. The bystander who chased Vega-Mendoza after he left the scene said Vega-Mendoza told him he would give him money “to not say anything,” the report says.

Vega-Mendoza spent one day in jail after his initial arrest and was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond, online court records show.


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