The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said Monday a 17-year-old driver was traveling at speeds estimated as fast as 135 mph when he crashed on U.S. 84/285 between Pojoaque and Española early Sunday and was later airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Juan Ríos said the driver was ejected from a white Infiniti coupe that rolled in the northbound lanes at about 4:30 a.m. south of La Puebla Road. A 16-year-old male passenger suffered minor injuries, he said.
“Deputies suspect alcohol may have been involved,” Ríos said. Tests were being conducted to confirm that, he said.
An update on the driver’s condition was not immediately available Monday. Ríos said he was believed to have been stabilized.
Both teens were initially transported to Presbyterian Española Hospital, where it was determined that the 17-year-old needed to be airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, according to Ríos. The 16-year-old was later released from the hospital.
Ríos said sheriff’s deputies had been monitoring traffic on U.S. 84/285 near the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino when at 4:25 a.m., the Infiniti sped past them “at an extremely high rate of speed.” The deputies initially tried to give chase, but when they couldn’t catch up with it, a commander called off the pursuit.
The deputies continued north on the highway and learned there were two Pojoaque police vehicles chasing the vehicle, Ríos said. They came upon the crash site a few minutes later in the La Puebla area, near the Knights of Columbus building.
The Infiniti came to rest on its passenger side and was wedged into a barrier in the middle of the highway, according to Ríos.
Pojoaque police told the deputies “they had tracked the vehicle traveling at about 135 mph,” Ríos said.
Because of the severity of the crash, the sheriff’s office dispatched its accident reconstruction unit, known as “the fatal team,” to the area to secure and process evidence from the scene.
It was not yet known whether either occupant of the Infiniti had been arrested or charged, or where they are from.
The single-vehicle crash closed the northbound lanes of the highway for several hours.
State police and the Department of Transportation assisted in managing the crash site, Ríos said. Traffic northbound and on the east frontage road was shut down until about 11 a.m. while vehicles were diverted onto the west frontage road.